pit·​tance | \ ˈpi-tᵊn(t)s How to pronounce pittance (audio) \

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 When Leonard Green made its third attempt to exit, the nominal price was a pittance. Peter Elkind, ProPublica, "Investors Extracted $400 Million From a Hospital Chain That Sometimes Couldn’t Pay for Medical Supplies or Gas for Ambulances," 30 Sep. 2020 Marinakis also made allies in Beijing, which in 2016 acquired the port of Piraeus for a pittance as part of its Belt and Road Initiative, designed to further loop global trade flows through China. Alexander Clapp, The New Republic, "The Vampire Ship," 28 Sep. 2020 Sayeda’s father was a cycle-rickshaw driver, ferrying passengers for a pittance. Smita Sharma, National Geographic, "Stolen lives: The harrowing story of two girls sold into sexual slavery," 28 Sep. 2020 Adding insult to injury, my coworkers and I were offered only a pittance of severance to tide us over through this incredible time of uncertainty. Shirley Smith, Fortune, "Why the Democratic Party must make a clean break with Wall Street," 8 Sep. 2020 The addicts were compensated with minimal product and the teens with street cachet and a monetary pittance. Sergio De La Pava, Harper's Magazine, "On Defense," 15 Sep. 2020 On top of the perks that come with the job, the compensation might sound too good to be true: The salary will be in the six figures — no mere pittance for a capable, slope-shredding nanny. Skye Sherman, Travel + Leisure, "You Can Get Paid Six Figures to Ski and Nanny in Aspen This Year," 8 Sep. 2020 Our national and state governments have tried to mitigate the terrible consequences that are befalling American workers and businesses, but their help is a pittance compared to what is needed. Richard Mason, Arkansas Online, "OPINION | RICHARD MASON: Interesting times are here again," 30 Aug. 2020 Much of that optimism is fueled by the hopes for further fiscal stimulus, continued loose monetary policy and record amounts of cash looking for big returns (equities) when traditional safe-havens (Treasurys) are yielding a pittance. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, "The S&P 500 is up 50% since March, and Goldman thinks the rally is far from over," 17 Aug. 2020

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

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Last Updated

8 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pittance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pittance. Accessed 21 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for pittance


How to pronounce pittance (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of pittance

: a very small amount of money

More from Merriam-Webster on pittance

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pittance

Nglish: Translation of pittance for Spanish Speakers

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