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.

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 Although financial terms have not been disclosed, The CW likely is paying a relative pittance — probably $1 million per game — to broadcast quality college football. Jon Wilner, The Mercury News, 18 May 2024 Now, Elliott is back on a pittance of his former deal. Clarence E. Hill Jr., Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 7 May 2024 That’s a pittance, though, compared to the 50,000 to 60,000 people who flooded into the county during the housing bubble of the early 2000s. Lori Weisberg, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Mar. 2024 Why would musicians accustomed to earning six or seven figures a show agree to perform for nothing or a pittance of their usual take home? Kate Gibson, CBS News, 11 Feb. 2024 See all Example Sentences for pittance 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pittance.' 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 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


Dictionary Entries Near pittance

Cite this Entry

“Pittance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pittance. Accessed 15 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


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

More from Merriam-Webster on pittance

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!