Definition of paltry
3 : trivial a paltry excuse they in their greatness don't have to bother with such paltry restrictions — Vanessa Feltz
paltry was our Word of the Day on 03/04/2013. Hear the podcast!
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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the hotel's shabby, outdated exercise room was its paltry attempt at a health spa
Recent Examples of paltry from the Web
OHA capitalizes on this, convincing some legislators that hospitals’ relatively paltry charity-care costs would be impossible to afford without Obamacare money.
Such liquidity only now seems to be coming online in the Hanjin case, long after the damage has been done, and in relatively paltry amounts.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'paltry.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
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 and Etymology of paltry
obsolete paltry trash, from dialect palt, pelt piece of coarse cloth, trash; akin to Middle Low German palte rag
First Known Use: 1565See Words from the same year
PALTRY Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of paltry for English Language Learners
: very small or too small in amount
: having little meaning, importance, or worth
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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