pu·​ny | \ ˈpyü-nē How to pronounce puny (audio) \
punier; puniest

Definition of puny

: slight or inferior in power, size, or importance : weak

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Other Words from puny

punily \ ˈpyü-​nə-​lē How to pronounce punily (audio) \ adverb
puniness \ ˈpyü-​nē-​nəs How to pronounce puniness (audio) \ noun

Examples of puny in a Sentence

I wouldn't mess with him—he makes bodybuilders look puny in comparison. We laughed at their puny attempt to trick us.

Recent Examples on the Web

New York penthouse prices, which range from $7,000 to $13,000 a square foot, according to Manhattan agent Robby Browne, make San Francisco’s seem almost puny. Kathleen Pender, SFChronicle.com, "Race to the top: Developers push a panoply of penthouses in San Francisco," 30 Aug. 2019 But bond prices are even more inflated, as evidenced by their incredibly puny yields. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "Beware the Bond Market: Fixed Income is Now At Least as Risky as the Stock Market, by This Measure," 28 Aug. 2019 Their numbers look too puny to matter as a national voting bloc. The Economist, "The rising clout of Indian Americans," 23 July 2019 Compared to the megalodon, the model of the modern-day great white shark seems puny. Susan Dunne, courant.com, "Sharks! on exhibit through summer at the Bruce," 3 July 2019 That’s because Samsung has seriously trimmed down the bezels on the Note 10 series, so much so that the non-plus version feels downright puny. Michael Simon, PCWorld, "Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ hands-on: A new model changes the game, for better or worse," 7 Aug. 2019 But the explosion in prices has made a longstanding problem worse: High prices today mean puny gains tomorrow. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "There Have Been Two Times in History Stocks Have Been This Expensive: 1929 and 2000," 29 July 2019 And because the language of left vs. right, Democrat vs. Republican, liberal vs. conservative, is too puny. John Hammontree | Jhammontree@al.com, al, "Rev. William Barber on building a moral coalition in the South, comparisons to MLK," 5 Aug. 2019 Mrs Merkel’s colleagues in the EPP, such as Leo Varadkar of Ireland, objected that the parliament job was too puny a prize for coming first. The Economist, "EU leaders’ arduous deal on top jobs may yet fall apart," 4 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'puny.' 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 puny

circa 1577, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for puny

Anglo-French puisné younger, weakly, literally, born afterward, from puis afterward + born

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Statistics for puny

Last Updated

9 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for puny

The first known use of puny was circa 1577

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More Definitions for puny



English Language Learners Definition of puny

somewhat informal
: small and weak
: not very large, impressive, or effective


pu·​ny | \ ˈpyü-nē How to pronounce puny (audio) \
punier; puniest

Kids Definition of puny

1 : small and weak in size or power
2 : not very impressive or effective My boss gave me a puny raise.

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More from Merriam-Webster on puny

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with puny

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for puny

Spanish Central: Translation of puny

Nglish: Translation of puny for Spanish Speakers

Comments on puny

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


recurring in steady succession

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