1 : inferior, trashy
2 : mean, despicable
3 : trivial
4 : meager, measly
Did You Know?
Before "paltry" was an adjective, it was a noun meaning "trash." That now obsolete noun in turn came from "palt" or "pelt," dialect terms meaning "a piece of coarse cloth," or broadly, "trash." The adjective "paltry" first meant "trashy," but it currently has a number of senses, all generally meaning "no good." A "paltry house" might be run-down and unfit for occupancy; a "paltry trick" is a trick that is low-down and dirty; a "paltry excuse" is a trivial one; and a "paltry sum" is small and insufficient.
Anna told us she was tired of engaging in paltry work and longed to do something meaningful with her life.
"Monday, I tried to cheer up snow fans who have been frowning at Seattle's paltry 0.6" of snowfall this winter by stating that February has had its share of snowfall over the years." - From a post by meteorologist Scott Sistek on KOMONews.com's weather blog, January 29, 2013
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Name That Synonym
What synonym of "paltry" rhymes with "fiddling"? The answer is ...
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