pittance

noun

pit·​tance ˈpi-tᵊn(t)s How to pronounce pittance (audio)
: a small portion, amount, or allowance
also : a meager wage or remuneration

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.

Example Sentences

the internship offers only a pittance for a salary, but it is a great opportunity to gain experience
Recent Examples on the Web If your shares are nearly worthless, your brokerage may help you out by buying them from you for a pittance, just to close out your position. Dallas News, 20 Feb. 2022 The financial penalty is a pittance to the company and the former president, who collected hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue each year while in office. William K. Rashbaum, New York Times, 13 Jan. 2023 The financial penalty is a pittance to the company and the former president, who collected hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue each year while in office. BostonGlobe.com, 13 Jan. 2023 The firm initially managed around $55 million — a pittance in the financial world. David Yaffe-bellany, New York Times, 18 Nov. 2022 That’s a pittance in a state the size of California, where the price tag of a successful gubernatorial campaign typically runs in the tens of millions of dollars. Phil Willonstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 31 May 2022 Peer reviewers, who normally work for no pay, are in this case compensated by a relative pittance: $150. Samanth Subramanian, Quartz, 25 Jan. 2022 Compared to the billions of dollars poured into Covid vaccines, the funds for malaria are a pittance. Apoorva Mandavilli Kang-chun Cheng, New York Times, 4 Oct. 2022 That’s largely because it was launched in an environment of near-zero interest rates, where safe investments like T-bills paid only a pittance. Byjeff John Roberts, Fortune, 3 Nov. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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

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Dictionary Entries Near pittance

Cite this Entry

“Pittance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pittance. Accessed 6 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

pittance

noun
pit·​tance ˈpit-ᵊn(t)s How to pronounce pittance (audio)
: a small portion, amount, or allowance especially of money

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