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

Keep scrolling for more

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

The donation is a pittance for AT&T, with $19.4 billion in profit last year. Washington Post, "DirecTV owner backs free streaming service Locast as hedge," 27 June 2019 Plus, Charbono grapes sell for a pittance compared with neighboring Cab vines: $3,649 per ton versus $7,854 in 2018. Esther Mobley, SFChronicle.com, "The fight to keep alive Charbono, Napa’s nearly extinct heritage grape," 26 June 2019 City leaders did the right thing years ago by paying $2 million, a pittance by today’s standards, to put an easement on that land. The Denver Post Editorial Board, The Denver Post, "Editorial: Denver’s leaders must win this land battle for 155 acres of parkland," 24 June 2019 Chances are, only those who actually plan to cook the greens or turn them into a salad would be willing to pay even a pittance for it. Anya Samek, The Conversation, "Americans don’t agree on whether the poor should chip in or do work in exchange for aid," 14 June 2019 If rumours are to be believed, Emery will only have a budget of around £40-50m to bring in new recruits this summer, which for a team in desperate need of improving is a pittance. SI.com, "Reiss Nelson: What the Arsenal Youngster Could Bring on His Return to the Gunners," 5 June 2019 The gaffe was a pittance compared to the actual embarrassments that besieged the organization. Andy Mccullough, latimes.com, "Cubs add closer Craig Kimbrel and Dodgers get company in N.L. pennant race," 5 June 2019 Their final bill, even after paying a 62.5% tax rate on the $2.5 million above $237 million, came to $12 million, a relative pittance considering that the spending enabled them to win the World Series. Jared Diamond, WSJ, "How MLB’s Luxury Tax Has Put a Deep Freeze on Spending," 11 Jan. 2019 But what the president and his daughter want to offer is a pittance compared to what women need after the arrival of a new child. Bryce Covert, Glamour, "America Could at Last Pass Paid Leave. But What Good Is a Plan That Excludes Millions of Women?," 2 Apr. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about pittance

Listen to Our Podcast about pittance

Dictionary Entries near pittance

pit stop







Statistics for pittance

Last Updated

9 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pittance

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for pittance



English Language Learners Definition of pittance

: a very small amount of money

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on pittance

What made you want to look up pittance? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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