The statement which the Chancellor of the Exchequer lays before
the House of Commons every session, respecting the national income and
expenditure, taxes and salaries. The word is the old French
bougette, a bag, and the present use arose from the custom of
bringing to the House the papers pertaining to these matters in a
leather bag, and laying them on the table. Hence, to open the budget
or bag, i.e. to take the papers from the bag and submit them to
A budget of news
is a bagful of news, a large stock of news. Cry Budget. A
watchword or shibboleth. Thus Slender says to Shallow-
“We have a nay-word how to know one another. I come to her in white
and cry mum; she cries budget: and by that we know one
another.' ” —Shakespeare: Merry Wives of Windsor, v. 2.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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