pit·​tance | \ˈpi-tᵊn(t)s \

Definition of pittance 

: a small portion, amount, or allowance also : a meager wage or remuneration

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Did You Know?

It's a pity when you haven't anything but a pittance. And in fact, "pity" and "pittance" share etymological roots. The Middle English word pittance came from Anglo-French pitance, meaning "pity" or "piety." Originally, a "pittance" was a gift or bequest to a religious community, or a small charitable gift. Ultimately, the word comes from the Latin pietas, meaning "piety" or "compassion." Our words "pity" and "piety" come from "pietas" as well.

Examples of pittance in a Sentence

the internship offers only a pittance for a salary, but it is a great opportunity to gain experience

Recent Examples on the Web

First, in comparison to the astronomical cost of space missions, naming rights would bring in a relative pittance. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Rocket Report: Lots of losers in small launch, Air Force award, Red (Bull) Mars," 7 Sep. 2018 Native eventually secured $550,000 from professional and individual investors, a relative pittance in the startup world where $100 million funding rounds and billion dollar valuations are discussed in a way that could sound like the norm. Jason Del Rey, Recode, "The rise of giant consumer startups that said no to investor money," 29 Aug. 2018 His administration has been selling off debt held by government entities, including accounts receivable, for a pittance of its worth, the United States officials said, and has pocketed the cash, leaving Venezuela’s finances in shambles. New York Times, "As Trump Adds Sanctions on Venezuela, Its Neighbors Reject Election Result," 21 May 2018 Galvin has shelled out just $28,535 this year, according to campaign finance records, a pittance compared to the hundreds of thousands — even millions — other statewide campaigns have spent. Matt Stout, BostonGlobe.com, "In primary fight, Galvin signals he’s ramping up spending," 22 June 2018 As of May 15, Massie had $18,006 in his campaign account — a pittance for any candidate attempting to mount a respectable showing at the June 2 convention and in the Sept. 4 primary. BostonGlobe.com, "Massie campaign loses communications chief," 24 May 2018 Killing these deeply known cast members is the number one source of experience points in Vampyr; killing nameless fodder enemies and even completing quests deliver a pittance by comparison. Steven Strom, Ars Technica, "Vampyr review: Dead in the daylight," 6 June 2018 Taking his inspiration from Whitman's journals, Acouin imagines the poet's humanitarian mindfulness as a kind of Dante-esque descent into a hellish morass of suffering where there can only be a pittance of healing. Mark Swed, latimes.com, "Walt Whitman's operatic America in 'Crossing' gets its West Coast premiere," 27 May 2018 Since 2014, as the Washington Post recently noted, the Big East has produced just two one-and-done players – a pittance compared to the ACC (15), the Pac-12 (12), the SEC (11), or the Big 12 (seven) and half as many as the Big Ten (four). Mike Sielski, Philly.com, "The greatness of Villanova and Jay Wright has elevated the new Big East, and the new Big East has elevated them | Mike Sielski," 5 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pittance.' 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 pittance

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pittance

Middle English pitance, from Anglo-French, piety, pity, dole, portion, from Medieval Latin pietantia, from pietant-, pietans, present participle of pietari to be charitable, from Latin pietas piety — more at pity

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Dictionary Entries near pittance

pit stop







Statistics for pittance

Last Updated

26 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for pittance

The first known use of pittance was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of pittance

: a very small amount of money

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More from Merriam-Webster on pittance

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pittance

Spanish Central: Translation of pittance

Nglish: Translation of pittance for Spanish Speakers

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to make faulty or ineffective

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