noun, often attributive
pen·​ny | \ˈpe-nē \
plural pennies\ˈpe-​nēz \ or pence\ˈpen(t)s \

Definition of penny 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a monetary unit of the United Kingdom formerly equal to ¹/₂₄₀ pound but now equal to ¹/₁₀₀ pound

b : a similar monetary unit of any of various other countries in or formerly in the Commonwealth of Nations — see pound at Money Table

c : a coin representing one penny

2 : denarius

3 plural pennies : cent

4 : a former monetary unit equal to ¹/₁₀₀ Irish pound

5 : a trivial amount

6 : a piece or sum of money that will cost a pretty penny

Definition of -penny (Entry 2 of 2)

: being a (designated) nail size an eightpenny nail

Examples of penny in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The semi-annual event is a dream for shoppers everywhere, with the beauty store offering steep discounts, special goodies, in-store events, and enough sale items to empty out every penny I had ever saved in my piggybank. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "21 Days of Beauty at Ulta Might Be Starting on September 2," 22 Aug. 2018 Her mom and a friend spent hours washing off the change locked inside of it – pennies, nickels, dimes. Christina Tkacik,, "'We cannot in good conscience rebuild': Ellicott City business owner says she won't be back on Main Street," 1 June 2018 For serving, spend the couple of extra pennies and buy a good-quality brioche, pretzel or kaiser roll. Nancy Stohs, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "5 meats to master on the grill: We went back to school to learn the best techniques," 29 May 2018 Martin Schulz and Sigmar Gabriel, the most keenly pro-French major figures among Mrs Merkel’s Social Democrat partners, were toppled in the recent coalition talks, leaving Olaf Scholz—a typically German penny-pincher—to take the finance ministry. The Economist, "The growing strains between Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron," 24 May 2018 Keeping a jar of pennies in the kitchen is good luck. Cassie Armstrong,, "National Lucky Penny Day: How to celebrate in Central Florida," 23 May 2018 Obviously there were the usual references to the 'penny pincher's' transfer fee and weekly wages., "Tabloid Attention on Raheem Sterling Reaches New Lows as England Star Is Slated for Eating Breakfast," 24 Apr. 2018 Prices vary per state, with the lowest figures being associated with politicians in Illinois ($0.03), New York ($0.02), and California ($0.01), where high student population may mean each student was worth only a couple of pennies. Jameelah Nasheed, Teen Vogue, "March for Our Lives Released Dozens of New NRA Price Tags," 18 Apr. 2018 Fenner shareholders will also receive a dividend of up to 2.1 pence per share to be declared around April 25. Anthony Palazzo,, "Michelin to Buy U.K. Belt-Drive Maker Fenner for $1.7 Billion," 19 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'penny.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of penny


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for penny


Middle English, from Old English penning, penig; akin to Old High German pfenning, a coin

Adjective combining form

penny; perhaps from the original price per hundred

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Statistics for penny

Last Updated

13 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for penny

The first known use of penny was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for penny



English Language Learners Definition of penny

: a coin or a unit of money equal to 1/100 of a dollar

: a coin or a unit of money equal to 1/100 of a British pound

: a British coin used before 1971 that was equal to 1/12 of a shilling


pen·​ny | \ˈpe-nē \
plural pennies\ˈpe-​nēz \

Kids Definition of penny

1 : cent

2 or plural pence\ˈpens\ : a coin of the United Kingdom equal to ¹/₁₀₀ pound

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More from Merriam-Webster on penny

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with penny

Spanish Central: Translation of penny

Nglish: Translation of penny for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of penny for Arabic Speakers

Comments on penny

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having a pattern of small flowers

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