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penny-farthing

[pen-ee-fahr-th ing]
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noun British.
  1. a high bicycle of an early type, with one large wheel in front and one small wheel behind.

Origin of penny-farthing

from a comparison of the size difference between the two bicycle wheels to the size difference between an old British penny and a farthing
Also called ordinary.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for pennyfarthing

penny-farthing

noun
  1. British an early type of bicycle with a large front wheel and a small rear wheel, the pedals being attached to the front wheelUS name: ordinary

Word Origin

C20: so called because of the similarity between the relative sizes of the wheels and the relative sizes of the (old) penny and farthing coins
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for pennyfarthing

adj.

also penny farthing, penny-farthing, "ineffective," 1887, from penny + farthing, the two together making but a small sum. The noun, in reference to the kind of bicycle with a small wheel in back and a big one in front (so called from the notion of different size coins) is first recorded 1927.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper