One gets to wondering, midway through a drive across Kansas, what is lucre, exactly, that it always seems to be appearing in tandem with “filthy?” Off to the OED I did go, and found the word did not always keep such low company.
Gain, profit, pecuniary advantage. Now only with unfavourable implication: Gain viewed as a low motive for action; ‘pelf’
The word is quite old, dating back to Chaucer, though even then the negative connotations were creeping in.
1386 Chaucer Prioress’s Tale39 Foule vsure and lucre of vileynye.
a1637 B. Jonson Magnetick Lady v. x. 86 in Wks. (1640) III, Love to my Child, and lucre of the portion Provok’d me
Odd, isn’t it, that coin earned through commerce and effort gets the bad rap? One would think the English would value lucre resulting from enterprise, but apparently not.