pal·​try | \ ˈpȯl-trē How to pronounce paltry (audio) \
paltrier; paltriest

Definition of paltry

1 : inferior, trashy built paltry houses unfit for occupancy
2 : mean, despicable a paltry trick
3 : trivial a paltry excuse they in their greatness don't have to bother with such paltry restrictions— Vanessa Feltz
4 : meager, measly made a paltry donation Sales have increased by a paltry two percent.

Other Words from paltry

paltriness noun

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.

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a paltry, underhanded scheme to get someone fired the hotel's shabby, outdated exercise room was its paltry attempt at a health spa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 on the Web Republican lawmakers, who voted for the plan — stickers and all — to avoid going on the record against tax breaks, say the savings will be paltry. Dan Petrella,, 16 Apr. 2022 Their payroll is so paltry that the Dodgers, Mets, Yankees, Phillies and Padres are spending more per month on their payroll than the A’s for the entire season. Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY, 3 Apr. 2022 In early 2020, Houston’s estate sent a holographic version of the singer on tour, hoping that an uncanny valley version of Whitney would provide the income stream that her relatively paltry musical vaults had not. Washington Post, 11 Feb. 2022 The employee engagement market is projected to be only $370 million, which is pretty paltry compared to the money spent on customer engagement. Arvind Jain, Forbes, 26 Jan. 2022 Meanwhile, workers taking entry-level jobs saw comparably paltry growth of just 2.5%. - Make Genius Money Moves, Forbes, 28 Dec. 2021 The author sees climate change as an imminent threat to which the response has been paltry. New York Times, 23 Nov. 2021 And while global investments in infrastructure have increased steeply — infrastructure funds held $582 billion in assets as of June 2019 — investments in water and sanitation infrastructure have been paltry. CNN, 1 Nov. 2021 The show started out in black and white, the big board was really primitive and the winnings were truly paltry. Bill Carter For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, 28 Aug. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of paltry

1565, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for paltry

obsolete paltry trash, from dialect palt, pelt piece of coarse cloth, trash; akin to Middle Low German palte rag

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Last Updated

29 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Paltry.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for paltry


pal·​try | \ ˈpȯl-trē How to pronounce paltry (audio) \
paltrier; paltriest

Kids Definition of paltry

: 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 Fleishman, The Whipping Boy

More from Merriam-Webster on paltry

Nglish: Translation of paltry for Spanish Speakers


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