Post No Bills

PoleBill is a funny word. Normally, it means a statement of what you have to pay someone for a product or service, what you owe him or her. In a restaurant, the waiter brings you the bill (also called the check). Most people complain about all of the bills they have to pay each month – telephone bills, electricity bills, water bills. To bill is also a verb meaning to give or send someone a request for money. If you want to pay for something later but take your product now, you may say to the person selling it, “Bill me!” meaning “Send me a bill for the payment and I will pay you later.”

But there are even more meanings of bill. Bill is also a short form of the name William, as in President Bill Clinton. Bill can also mean a sign or a poster advertising something, usually placed on a public wall or on a telephone pole (a long piece of wood that is used to keep the telephone wires up in the air). You can see here a picture of a telephone pole with hundreds of staples (sharp metal objects that hold paper or other thin material together). Why so many staples? People use these poles to put up notices about a lost dog or a local sale that they’re having at their house. Telephone poles are used as places to put free announcements that can be seen by anyone who walks by them. This pole has had many people use it as a place to post (to put in a place for people to see it) announcements. Another word for announcement or advertising poster is, remember, a bill. So on some walls or poles, you will see a sign that says: Post No Bills, meaning “Don’t put up any of those signs here!”

One more thing: a pole is a long piece of wood, but a Pole (with the “p” capitalized) is a person from the country of Poland. Confusing, right?


P.S. Thanks again to Matteo Mescalchin of Digital Movie for this photograph.

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11 Responses to Post No Bills

  1. robert(o) says:

    Yes, and there´s another important connotation, BILL as draft law. [“draft of an act of Parliament”] I would lobby a BILL that doesn´t make the voters to payers of the politician´s faults, Let us introduce such a BILL


  2. Oleg says:

    Yeah, and there is a Schoolhouse Rock cartoon called “How a Bill Becomes a Law” which can be found in Youtube))

    PS It was also interesting to know that bill can be used as a synomim for advertising poster. I did not know that!

  3. …and… There is a important and lovely personality among IT and computer users.

    The lovely Bill Gates from Microsoft company… LOL

    Oh! my god.. my Windows doen´t work anymore.


  4. Juan Carlos says:

    What I didn´t know was that is a short name for Willliam. Sometime I heard on the news said the president William Clinton and i had no idea they were talking about Bill Clinton. It´s funny because you can´t tell because there´s no similarity between both.

  5. robert(o) says:

    Oleg, Yeah that rocks. Thanks for the Schoolhouse link.

    My favorite is the funny train: Schoolhouse Rock Conjunction Junction (Conjunction, Conjunction what´s your function ?)

    I found also on Youtube:

    Grammar Rock – Adverb
    Grammar Rock – Preposition
    Grammar Rock – Verb
    Grammar Rock – Adjective
    Grammar Rock – Noun

    and of course – a Must See:

    Mad Tv – Public School House Rock – Nouns

    That´s possibly a good way for certain ESL-Students to learn English grammar terms.

  6. Oleg says:

    Hey Eduardo! You reminded us about Bill Gates, so I just remembered that I saw one movie couple of weeks ago called “Pirates of Silicon Valley” somebody gave us a link to a long time ago.
    I hope everybody saw this film, but if somebody don’t, go ahead and watch it. The story was about how computers had been developing from almost the very beginning, and was about two people, Steve and Bill, they worked independently, and they didn’t join to work together for some unclear historical reasons. And two largest computer companies appeared, Apple and Microsoft.

    I was thinking about these historical events. They were trying to compete against each other and didn’t share much with their own information. Each of them created its own big computer company. All these companies are very popular and modern nowadays, you can do anything you want using their computers. And the only thing – the operational systems and computers itself are completely different!
    Which computers would we have now if they would have joined then?

  7. baz says:

    and when the waiter brings you a bill you have to also give him a bill (for instance a 20-dollar bill). but these are really two different sorts of bills.

  8. robert(o) says:


    Your published link from above is broken, is 404


    P.S. Thanks again to Matteo Mescalchin of Digital Movie for this photograph.


  9. emiliano says:

    Bill looks to me like a magical word, it is used for nearly everything. But I am astonished about the picture of poles.
    I haven’t seem that poles from years and years….., the photograph takes me to the pass. Very curious such a thing
    in U.S.

  10. Sam says:

    even more meaning for ‘Bill’ I found when I lucked it up in dic. it means: ‘Beak’ and some sort of sort ‘Sword’. I’m very curious to know (as my mother tongue is not english) whether this word (i.e. Bill) is nowadays used in daily conversations instead of Beak or Sword?

    By the way, I should thank you Jeff and co-workers for such a great attempt you made to improve our english. Is it possible for us to load your podcasts and listen to them via our iPod when we are e.g. cycling?


  11. Sebastian says:


    I too found a couple of different meanings of the word ‘bill’. How about ‘a bill of an anchor’ or ‘ a bill as a bird’s claw’. However first thing that comes to my mind when hearing the word bill is money that I owe, say a company.

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