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

Definition of puny

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

Keep scrolling for more

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 But, as with multilateral lenders such as the World Bank, the financial muscle behind it looks puny in comparison. The Economist, "Break time The pandemic is hurting China’s Belt and Road Initiative," 4 June 2020 As a result, returns excluding AWS are puny and the pandemic is squeezing margins in e-commerce further. The Economist, "The genius of Amazon The pandemic has shown that Amazon is essential—but vulnerable," 18 June 2020 Funding new programs for online learning or making podcasts and documentaries on COVID-19 — NEH’s guidelines suggest this, too — seems pretty puny and ineffective, jarringly so, given the financial problems that small organizations are facing. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "COVID Cash for the Arts: Where to Start," 2 May 2020 Their puny masses would be inversely proportional to those of the heavy neutrinos that arose in the early universe. Clara Moskowitz, Scientific American, "Antimatter Discovery Reveals Clues about the Universe’s Beginning," 23 Apr. 2020 That befitted him as a peasant’s son from the mountains near Afghanistan, whose most vivid childhood memory was straining his puny body on a building site to earn enough money to clear his father’s debts. The Economist, "Nowhere and everywhere Obituary: Qassem Suleimani was assassinated on January 3rd," 9 Jan. 2020 Finally, the puny 6.8 SPC from Remington appeared about 2004. Ron Spomer, Outdoor Life, "The New 27 Nosler and .277 Sig Fury Are Creating a .277 Cartridge Comeback," 26 Feb. 2020 The short answer is that while buybacks are widely lauded as the market's salvation, Corporate America is choosing to repurchase its shares at extremely high prices, so that each buck spent delivers a relatively puny bang. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "3 reasons ballooning stock buybacks are worrisome," 12 Feb. 2020 The broader point, though, is that blockbusters don't need the respect of puny critics, as Hulk might say, to attract audiences and thrive commercially. Brian Lowry, CNN, "'Parasite's' Oscar victory is also a win for under-the-radar movies," 10 Feb. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about puny

Time Traveler for puny

Time Traveler

The first known use of puny was circa 1577

See more words from the same year

Statistics for puny

Last Updated

4 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Puny.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/puny. Accessed 7 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for puny

How to pronounce puny (audio)

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.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on puny

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for puny

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


Test Your Vocabulary

July 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • papercraft sunset
  • Which is a synonym of mien?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!