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

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 divorcee has a full plate — handling penny-ante robberies and disturbances, tending to a high-profile case and caring for a multi-generational family. Jeanne Jakle, San Antonio Express-News, "10 new spring TV shows to watch, including 'Genius: Aretha,' 'Debris' and 'Hemmingway'," 24 Feb. 2021 In 2000, stock prices started trading in penny increments instead of quarters, which cut the price spreads that padded market maker profits, encouraging higher trading volume instead. Roya Wolverson, Quartz, "How Ken Griffin’s Citadel transformed financial markets," 18 Feb. 2021 Still, Cannon found ways to cut costs in strategic—and aesthetically-pleasing—ways, like covering a panel and floor in the shower in penny tile, a much less expensive material than marble, but one which adds a depth of texture when next to it. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "Rachel Cannon Reimagines a Dated Bathroom as a Bright, Inviting Space Full of Hidden Functionality," 11 Feb. 2021 The penny-farthing, with its huge front wheel, seems vaguely ridiculous in retrospect—and also pretty dangerous. Samuel Arbesman, Wired, "I Love Reading 1980s Computer Magazines, and So Should You," 26 Jan. 2021 The annual penny drive, which funds food, clothing and toys for those in need, was another challenge. Carrie Napoleon,, "Decades revisited: Active state representative hopes event cancellations are in the past: ‘I’m a person who needs people’," 31 Dec. 2020 Outside of the final garbage-time possession, when facing Dallas’ penny package, the Eagles went 1-for-5 on third and fourth downs with an interception. John Owning, Dallas News, "Film room: 3 things we learned from Cowboys-Eagles, including a new defensive wrinkle Mike Nolan deserves credit for," 28 Dec. 2020 While speaking to the owner, investigators saw three people in a back room playing what appeared to be electronic gambling machines, similar to penny slots, Cardenas-Martinez said. Ashley Remkus |, al, "Police seize 13 gambling machines at Decatur business," 15 Dec. 2020 The English name, penny bun, refers to its rounded shape and brownish color. Bill Heavey, Field & Stream, "The 7 Safest Mushrooms to Forage and Eat," 7 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for penny Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for penny

Last Updated

28 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Penny.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce penny (audio) \
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

More from Merriam-Webster on penny

Nglish: Translation of penny for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of penny for Arabic Speakers

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