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

While a classic Bass penny is certainly still suitable, a range of updated options is available from Thom Browne’s slate-gray, pebble-grain model to Bass’s black embossed crocodile-effect pair done in partnership with New York’s Engineered Garments. Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, "White Socks and Black Loafers. Stylish or Best Left to Michael Jackson?," 26 Sep. 2018 With more than $400,000 raised by afternoon's end, there's case enough for a third group: those who know that every penny has been well worth it. Amber Elliott, Houston Chronicle, "Sunny skies and $400,000 raised delight 11th annual Hats in the Park luncheon-goers," 22 Mar. 2018 Men spending stateside also owe a pretty penny: the average two piece business suit in New York costs $2,729.77. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "These Are the World’s Most Expensive Cities," 19 Mar. 2019 Not every penny spent on persuading congresspeople has to be reported—and a lot of political activities, like think tank funding, don’t count as lobbying. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Fossil fuel lobbyists grossly outspend “Big Green”," 20 July 2018 The average price to hire the most common type of big rig dipped to $2.07 per mile, a penny lower than the prior month and 5 cents below the level in December 2017. Jennifer Smith, WSJ, "Truckers See Momentum Slowing Heading Into 2019," 21 Jan. 2019 Don’t be surprised if the moon looks like a rusty old penny in the sky when the whole thing is going down. Jill Kiedaisch, Popular Mechanics, "How a Total Lunar Eclipse Works," 18 Jan. 2019 Average prices in Charlotte are about a penny a gallon less than the state average at $2.744. Bruce Henderson, charlotteobserver, "Driving to the beach this summer? It'll cost you more than last year. | Charlotte Observer," 18 May 2018 What better way to catch people's attention than with a dye job that gleams like a shiny copper penny? Laura Regensdorf, Vogue, "The Tom Ford Beauty Code—Glamorous and Sexy—Is Here to Stay," 7 Feb. 2019

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

19 Apr 2019

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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 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

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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

What made you want to look up penny? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move or proceed with twists and turns

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