Simple Definition of paltry
: very small or too small in amount
: having little meaning, importance, or worth
Examples of paltry in a sentence
<a paltry, underhanded scheme to get someone fired>
<the hotel's shabby, outdated exercise room was its paltry attempt at a health spa>
Did You Know?
Before "paltry" was an adjective, it was a noun meaning "trash." That now obsolete noun in turn came from "palt" or "pelt," dialect terms meaning "a piece of coarse cloth," or broadly, "trash." The adjective "paltry" first meant "trashy," but currently has a number of senses, all generally meaning "no good." A "paltry house" might be run-down and unfit for occupancy; a "paltry trick" is a trick that is low-down and dirty; a "paltry excuse" is a trivial one; and a "paltry sum" is small and insufficient.
Origin of paltry
obsolete paltry trash, from dialect palt, pelt piece of coarse cloth, trash; akin to Middle Low German palte rag
First Known Use: 1570
PALTRY Defined for Kids
Definition of paltry for Students
: of little amount, value, or importance <“I will not be exchanged for such a trifle. My mere weight? A paltry treasure you could carry on a shoulder?” — Sid Fleischman, The Whipping Boy>
Seen and Heard
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