The "Continental" was the nickname for the first series of United States banknotes, issued by the authority of the Continental Congress to finance the American Revolution in the late 1700's. Continental dollars were printed and counterfeited in such bulk that they quickly became almost worthless, much like the reichsmark in the Weimar Republic of Germany. Most people at the time used money printed by state governments or by private banks: incidentally, a similar practice arose in the Confederate States of America during the Civil War.

The rapid depreciation of the Continental's value gave rise to the expression "not worth a Continental," i.e. not worth anything.