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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Synonyms & Antonyms for pittance


mite, peanuts, shoestring, song


boodle, bundle, fortune, mint, wad

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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

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 That fee might be a pittance for a very wealthy person — regardless of what Trump’s net worth actually is, $130,000 probably didn’t make much of a dent in it. Anna North, Vox, "Donald Trump just tweeted out the rich man’s guide to buying women’s silence," 3 May 2018 The risk is that even if delivers several good NFL seasons, Barkley won’t return very good value due to the economics of the draft and the ability to find running backs who perform well for a pittance (See, Patriots and Eagles). Tom Krasovic, sandiegouniontribune.com, "As NFL Draft Night looms, several thoughts and a pundit's jab at ex-SDSU star," 26 Apr. 2018 To me, the total is a pittance and shows that the party formerly known as the Republican Party is now just another component of the swamp. WSJ, "Your Spending Reprieve Misses the Debt Big Picture," 20 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

20 Aug 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

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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).


evasion of direct action or statement

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