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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)
often attributive
: a monetary unit of the United Kingdom formerly equal to ¹/₂₄₀ pound but now equal to ¹/₁₀₀ pound
: a similar monetary unit of any of various other countries in or formerly in the Commonwealth of Nations see pound at Money Table
: a coin representing one penny
plural pennies : cent
: a former monetary unit equal to ¹/₁₀₀ Irish pound
: a trivial amount
: a piece or sum of money
that will cost a pretty penny


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adjective combining form

: being a (designated) nail size
an eightpenny nail

Examples of penny in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
The German bank lifts its stock rating to buy from hold, while cutting the price target to 3,000 pence from 3,100 pence. WSJ, 23 Nov. 2023 In other words, your child will need to save $100 to earn one penny. Kerri Anne Renzulli,, 22 Nov. 2023 That was almost every penny Kent and his wife, Joan, possessed. James Bandler, ProPublica, 21 Nov. 2023 Related: Drugstores make slow headway on staffing problems Today, more than 90% of prescriptions are for low-cost generic medications that typically cost pennies per pill. Stephen Buck, STAT, 21 Nov. 2023 Rakuten’s Shopping and Trend Advisor Bella Gerard and RetailMeNot's Shopping Expert and Editor Kristin McGrath are offering their two cents on how to save much more than pennies. Zoey Lyttle, Peoplemag, 20 Nov. 2023 The lack of improvement might be a sign shoppers are going to pinch their pennies over the holidays this year. Marley Jay, NBC News, 15 Nov. 2023 One piece by Thomas Macie is still there today: pennies hammered into warehouse shelving units as a Donald Judd-style permanent installation at Ikea. Mariella Rudi, Los Angeles Times, 26 Oct. 2023 Pico had come with a bag of paper poppies and distributed them one to a headstone along with a penny to show family members that someone had been there. Doug Smith, Los Angeles Times, 11 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'penny.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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

First Known Use


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

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

Dictionary Entries Near penny

Cite this Entry

“Penny.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


pen·​ny ˈpen-ē How to pronounce penny (audio)
plural pennies
or pence ˈpen(t)s How to pronounce penny (audio)
: a British unit of money formerly equal to ¹⁄₂₄₀ pound but now equal to ¹⁄₁₀₀ pound
: a coin representing this unit
plural pennies : cent
: a sum of money
earn an honest penny

More from Merriam-Webster on penny

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