Did a girl just tell you she doesn’t date anyone that doesn’t earn at least ‘six figures’? This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.
The expression ‘six figures’ relates to a person’s annual salary. If you’re earning six figures, you have a yearly income of $100,000 or more. For decades, making ‘six figures’ was the pinnacle of success. If you earned six figures, you could live any lifestyle you wanted.
Even with inflation rising and the dollar devaluing against other currencies, earning ‘six figures’ remains the benchmark for financial success in the United States. In recent years, the term ‘seven figures’ seems to replace ‘six figures’ as a symbol of economic prosperity.
“I just started as an intern with Goldman Sachs, and I’m already earning six figures. Give me a few years in the job, and I’ll be a multimillionaire.”
“I make an annual salary approaching six figures. I wouldn’t say I’m rich, but I have everything I want and need in life.”
“Today, you need an annual salary of at least six figures to live in cities like LA and NYC. In San Francisco, you need $250k a year just to get by comfortably.”
“If you earn six figures, that’s great, but are you saving any of it for your retirement. You won’t believe how many people earning over $100k a year live paycheck to paycheck.”
“So, you earn six figures, that’s great. Too bad inflation is eating away at that. Seven figures are the new six figures.”
Language experts are at a loss to explain how ‘six figures’ entered the English lexicon to describe a big salary. However, some language experts believe it originates from Wall Street in the late 1980s. New stockbrokers working in New York City would use the term to describe their annual salary.
Due to the rise in inflation and devaluation of the US Dollar over the last three decades, most people see ‘seven’ or ‘eight’ figures as the new reference to ‘six figures.’ However, six figures remains a popular way of telling someone you’re financially comfortable and don’t have to worry about money.
Phrases Similar to 6 Figures
- Doing well.
Phrases Opposite to 6 Figures
- Salary under $100,000.
What is the Correct Saying?
- 6 figures.
- Six figures.
Ways People May Say 6 Figures Incorrectly
Most people will use ‘six figures’ to describe an annual income of $100,000 or more. Some people may use it to describe a monthly income, but the yearly reference is more common.
Acceptable Ways to Phrase 6 Figures
You can use ‘six figures’ when describing your income or someone else’s. It means you earn an annual salary of over $100,000, which some people may classify as ‘rich.’ You can use the phrase in social and professional settings. For instance, you could tell your colleague you got a raise at work, and now you’re making six figures.
Or you could use it with friends to describe how you wish you had an annual income exceeding $100,000. The term references making money through legal or illegal methods, but it usually applies to a legal salary paid to an employee. You can use ‘six figures’ when someone asks you about your annual salary, and you don’t want to give them the exact number.