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c.1300, "silver penny," probably from Middle English sterre (see star (n.)), from the stars that appeared in the design of certain Norman coins, + diminutive suffix -ling. The other theory is that it derives from Old French estedre "stater" (see stater).
Sense broadened by 1560s to "money having the quality of the sterling," and c.1600 to "English money in general." A pound sterling was originally "a pound weight of sterlings," equal to about 240 of them.
city, seat (1887) of Logan county, northeastern Colorado, U.S. It lies along the South Platte River at an elevation of 3,950 feet (1,204 metres). Laid out after the arrival of the Union Pacific Railroad in 1881, it was named after a town in Illinois. Now an important railroad division point, it is a marketing and shipping centre for an irrigated area supporting cattle, sugar beets, grain (wheat and corn [maize]), and dairy products. In 1950 oil was discovered in the surrounding Denver-Julesburg Basin, and Sterling became the headquarters for much of the related oil and natural-gas activities. The city's other industries include sugar refining, meat processing, and the manufacture of steel tanks, cinder blocks, and concrete. Sterling is the seat of Northeastern Junior College (1941). The Pawnee National Grassland is northeast. Inc. 1884. Pop. (1990) 10,362; (2000) 11,360
the standard of purity for silver. The term sterling silver denotes any silver alloy in which pure silver makes up at least 92.5 percent of the content.