Definition of paltry
- a paltry excuse
- they in their greatness don't have to bother with such paltry restrictions
- —Vanessa Feltz
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a paltry, underhanded scheme to get someone fired
the hotel's shabby, outdated exercise room was its paltry attempt at a health spa
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.
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.
First Known Use: 1565See Words from the same year
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