Green’s Dictionary of Slang

soft money n.

also soft, the soft

1. notes, bills, paper money; also attrib.

[UK]Egan Life in London (1830) 47: tom [...] smiled with indifference at the rolls of soft which his most captivating fancy-piece drew from him repeatedly.
[US]Henry Clay Bugle 11 Apr. 3/3: Mr. Tod [...] endorses the bank doctrines of Gov. Shannon, and declares himself a sort of hermaphrodite, soft money man [DA].
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 98: SOFT [...] formerly bank notes.
[UK]R. Nicholson Rogue’s Progress (1966) 32: Hayward [...] carried on the system of passing ‘soft’ - that is to say, forged - notes on the Bank of England.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 8/2: There was over three hundred pounds [...] mostly all in ‘soft’.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[US]New Ulm Rev. (MN) 19 Nov. 1/5: ‘Take the “soft” to the hotel, with the usual story’.
[US]W.S. Walsh Literary Curiosities 450: In political parlance, especially during the second half of the decade 1870–1880, [...] ‘soft money’ [...] was understood [to mean] an irredeemable paper currency such as was advocated by the Greenbackers.
[US]Omaha Dly Bee (NE) 15 Nov. 5/3: The ‘soft’ is paper money.
[US]Little Falls Herald (MN) 31 Mar. 3/3: How to Operate the Shell Game with Profit [...] When the steerer gets the geezer in the push, let the boosters stall until the main plugger cops; then, if the gilly digs in his keyser [sic] or goes south for soft, give him a flash of the little dinkie doodle ball.
[US]Jackson & Hellyer Vocab. Criminal Sl. 78: soft [...] Paper money [...] ‘I fanned a gob of soft in the right jerve.’.
[US]Maines & Grant Wise-crack Dict.
[US]‘Paul Cain’ Fast One (1936) 158: I’ve got Fenner’s cheque too and somewhere around ten grand soft.
[US]H.B. Hersey G.I. Laughs 171: Soft money, paper currency.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 201/2: Soft. (Carnival) Paper currency; bills.
[US]M. Braly On the Yard (2002) 87: Such a fifteenth, wrapped in wax paper, was sold either for three dollars soft money or a carton of cigarettes.
[US]R. Klein Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].
[Can](con. 1920s) O.D. Brooks Legs 117: In case I pulled another rock and the next cop gave me a fast frisk, I exchanged the hard money for soft, rolled four ace notes tightly and buried them in the tobacco bag.
[US]T. Fontana ‘Strange Bedfellows’ Oz ser. 2 ep. 6 [TV script] How dumb you got to be to give hard or soft money for a decent place to crash and it’s false advertising?

2. (US) currency that is likely to lose its value.

[US](con. 19C) Chapman NDAS.

3. (also soft dough) money that is easily earned or otherwise gained.

[US]Van Loan ‘No Business’ Taking the Count 156: Tierney says it will be the softest money that ever went hunting a home.
A. Baer Sez ‘Bugs’ Baer 26 Aug. [synd. col.] Cap Huston doesn’t want to bilk Babe [Ruth] out of soft dough.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 217: soft dough Money easily acquired.
[Ire](con. 1940s) B. Behan Confessions 151: Sure [...] if it’s soft money.

In phrases

do soft (v.) (also pass the soft, shove the soft)

to pass counterfeit notes.

[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 16 Oct. 51/3: We left the parties on the day after ‘passing the soft’ [...] the town was in a buzz of wonder at the magnitude, extent and audacity of the fraud.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 25 Oct. 76/1: [headline] A New Mode of Shoving the Soft.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor III 386/2: I would cut that game of ‘smatter-hauling’ [...] and do a little soft,’ (pass bad notes).