puny

play
adjective pu·ny \ˈpyü-nē\

Definition of puny

punier

puniest

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

punily

play \ˈpyü-nə-lē\ adverb

puniness

play \ˈpyü-nē-nəs\ noun

Examples of puny in a sentence

  1. I wouldn't mess with him—he makes bodybuilders look puny in comparison.

  2. We laughed at their puny attempt to trick us.

Origin and Etymology of puny

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


First Known Use: 1593


PUNY Defined for English Language Learners

puny

play
adjective pu·ny \ˈpyü-nē\

Definition of puny for English Language Learners

  • : small and weak

  • : not very large, impressive, or effective


PUNY Defined for Kids

puny

play
adjective pu·ny \ˈpyü-nē\

Definition of puny for Students

punier

puniest

  1. 1 :  small and weak in size or power

  2. 2 :  not very impressive or effective <My boss gave me a puny raise.>

History for puny

In medieval French puisné, literally, “born afterward,” was used to mean “younger” when talking about two people. Borrowed into English, puisne and the phonetic spelling puny came to be used of anyone in a position of less importance than another. By the time of the playwright William Shakespeare puny no longer suggested relative rank, but had come to mean “weak” or “feeble”—a meaning the word retains today.


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