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 puny (audio) \ adverb
puniness \ ˈpyü-​nē-​nəs How to pronounce puny (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 The hybrid powertrain up front generates 121 horsepower while the rear motor pumps out a puny seven horsepower and removes itself from the party above 40 mph. David Beard, Car and Driver, 27 May 2021 After a year of empty airports, puny Transportation Security Administration lines and ample seats on airplanes, passengers may have to adjust again to a more crowded experience. Dallas News, 24 May 2021 That Xcel date will be only Eilish's third performance in Minnesota, following a very sold-out and fanatically received date at the Armory in 2019 and an appearance at puny 7th Street Entry a year earlier. Chris Riemenschneider, Star Tribune, 21 May 2021 Curry has the advantage of being the puny underdog, plus the huge advantage of being the most fun basketball player to watch over the last seven seasons. San Francisco Chronicle Staff, San Francisco Chronicle, 18 May 2021 Her campaign against the oppression of women in Egypt, from genital mutilation to routine marital thrashings, from puny inheritance rights to the wearing of the veil, hurled her against the authorities. The Economist, 27 Mar. 2021 In this regard, too, the program mimics our own imperfect mental capacities, even if its storage and processing speed dwarfs puny human brains. Ben Zimmer, Wired, 6 May 2021 These supermoons make the moon appear 14% bigger in the sky than the smallest, farthest moon, the puny moon. Dean Regas, The Enquirer, 23 Apr. 2021 But if voters wanted far-left policies, the Democratic House majority wouldn’t be so puny, the Senate wouldn’t be evenly split, and Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders would be president. Jason L. Riley, WSJ, 20 Apr. 2021

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

30 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Puny.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/puny. Accessed 16 Jun. 2021.

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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.

More from Merriam-Webster on puny

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for puny

Nglish: Translation of puny for Spanish Speakers


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