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

Pebble, despite its relatively puny yardage, is a track that cannot be beaten by merely bombing it with the driver. Dieter Kurtenbach, The Mercury News, "Kurtenbach: Why is the U.S. Open not played at Pebble Beach more often?," 16 June 2019 What sanctuary from rough men my puny grade-school arms could provide was negligible, but my dad never discouraged me.... Mike Kerrigan, WSJ, "Mom's Knight in Flammable Green Fur," 6 June 2019 Like Homecoming, Far From Home is another champagne superhero movie, airdropping high-tech wonders into puny Parker’s life. Darren Franich, EW.com, "Spider-Man: Far From Home," 24 June 2018 For conservatives who rail against high taxes, such a puny reduction will almost feel like an insult. Gilbert Garcia, ExpressNews.com, "San Antonio homestead exemption flies in the face of fiscal reality," 26 June 2019 Bobbing atop the vast, unforgiving Atlantic in rowboats, whalers face a ghostly white cetacean that has prevailed in all of its previous encounters with puny humankind. Daryl H. Miller, latimes.com, "Review: ‘Moby Dick — Rehearsed’ swims in an ocean of imagination at Theatricum," 14 June 2019 That figure seems puny for a city that only last year set a record for wetness. Martin Weil, Washington Post, "After record-setting rainfall in 2018, June has comparatively dry start," 7 June 2019 Called Sagittarius A*, that black hole is relatively puny compared to M87, containing the mass of just four million suns. National Geographic, "First-ever picture of a black hole unveiled," 10 Apr. 2019 The swinging lights are sensational in the theater, giving a sense of both climax and danger, but on the broadcast the technique came across as sort of puny. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "The Best and Worst of the 2019 Tony Awards," 10 June 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

15 Jul 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).


an act or instance of editing or removing

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