\ ˈpelf How to pronounce pelf (audio) \

Definition of pelf

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In the 14th century, the Anglo-French word pelfre, meaning "booty" or "stolen goods," was exchanged into English as "pelf" with the added meaning of "property." ("Pelfre" is also an ancestor of the English verb pilfer, meaning "to steal.") Two centuries later "pelf" showed gains when people began to use it for "money" and "riches." In some regions of Britain the word's use was diversified further, in a depreciative way, to refer to trash and good-for-nothings. The first of those meanings was a loss by about the mid-17th century; the second has little value outside of the Yorkshire region of England.

Examples of pelf in a Sentence

a politician who seems more interested in pelf than in policy

First Known Use of pelf

circa 1505, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pelf

Middle English, from Anglo-French pelfre booty

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Cite this Entry

“Pelf.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

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