1. Any english coin of standard value; coined money. So that ye offer nobles or sterlings. (Chaucer) And roman wealth in English sterling view. (Arbuthnot)
2. A certain standard of quality or value for money. Sterling was the known and approved standard in England, in all probability, from the beginning of king henry the Second’s reign. (S. M. Leake)
Origin: OE. Sterlynge, starling, for easterling, LL. Esterlingus, probably from Easterling, once the popular name of German trades in England, whose money was of the purest quality: cf. MHG. Sterlink a certain coin. Cf. East. Certain merchants of Norwaie, Denmarke, and of others those parties, called Ostomanni, or (as in our vulgar language we tearme them), easterlings, because they lie east in respect of us. . In the time of . . . King Richard the First, monie coined in the east parts of Germanie began to be of especiall request in England for the puritie thereof, and was called Easterling monie, as all inhabitants of those parts were called Easterlings, and shortly after some of that countrie, skillful in mint matters and allaies, were sent for into this realme to bring the coine to perfection; which since that time was called of them sterling, for Easterling. . Four thousand pound of sterlings..