Words in the News


Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter

On Monday the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered his third annual Budget, a statement about the financial position of the country and the government’s plans on taxation and public spending in the coming year. Philip Hammond, whose nickname is Spreadsheet Phil, is not a flashy man, but like his predecessors he was filmed holding up his red box for the cameras outside his official residence at No. 11 Downing Street before delivering a 72-minute speech in which he proclaimed the end of austerity.

While the Chancellor’s Budget involves the whole country, individuals, households and businesses also have budgets, meaning the amount of money available to spend on something as well as an estimate of what your income and expenditure are likely to be over a set period of time. If you budget, you plan how to spend your money, and if you budget for something you take account of how much it will cost in your plans.

If you are on a tight budget you have little to spend, while spending on projects can come in under, over or even on budget. If you are a prudent person, or Chancellor, you are careful to balance the budget, making sure your plans match your resources.

As an adjective, budget has a slightly different meaning. A budget hotel, flight, holiday or item is cheap, while a budget airline provides cheap flights. You can refer to something that is cheap as budget-friendly.

At first sight, the ‘budget’ in fussbudget, an American term meaning someone who worries a lot about unimportant things, does not seem to belong with the other meanings. If we look at the etymology, however, we can see the connection. The term budget comes from the Old French ‘bougette’, meaning a small leather bag, hence a wallet or pouch, or its contents. In the past, the Chancellor was said to open his budget, meaning that he opened his document bag to take out his fiscal plans. So a budget is literally a container, and a fussbudget is someone who contains a lot of fuss; so much so that it spills out of them and irritates other people. The term fusspot has a similar origin.

Email this Post Email this Post

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

Leave a Comment