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

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 There may be downpours in the inland mountains and deserts, and dry lightning is a potential hazard in the higher elevations, but rainfall amounts are usually puny near the coast. Los Angeles Times, "Why is L.A. getting so much rain in July? Understanding the summer bumper," 24 July 2019 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

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

Dictionary Entries near puny








Statistics for puny

Last Updated

12 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for puny

The first known use of puny was circa 1577

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


a period when something is suspended

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!