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[pen-shuh n; French pahn-syawn for 3] /ˈpɛn ʃən; French pɑ̃ˈsyɔ̃ for 3/
noun, plural pensions
[pen-shuh nz; French pahn-syawn for 3] /ˈpɛn ʃənz; French pɑ̃ˈsyɔ̃ for 3/ (Show IPA)
a fixed amount, other than wages, paid at regular intervals to a person or to the person's surviving dependents in consideration of past services, age, merit, poverty, injury or loss sustained, etc.:
a retirement pension.
an allowance, annuity, or subsidy.
  1. a boardinghouse or small hotel.
  2. room and board.
verb (used with object)
to grant or pay a pension to.
to cause to retire on a pension (usually followed by off).
Origin of pension
1325-75; Middle English (< Old French pensïon) < Latin pēnsiōn- (stem of pēnsiō) a weighing out, hence, a paying out, installment paying, equivalent to pēns(us) (past participle of pendere to weigh out, pay by weight, equivalent to pend- verb stem + -tus past participle suffix, with dt > s) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
pensionable, adjective
pensionably, adverb
pensionless, adjective
nonpensionable, adjective
unpensionable, adjective
unpensioned, adjective
unpensioning, adjective
well-pensioned, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for pension
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The practical result of the Ode was a pension of 200 a year conferred on him by Queen Anne.

    Handel Edward J. Dent
  • This was the last I had seen of my ticket, and almost the last I had thought of my pension.

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
  • I had no thought of this pension, at all, in coming up to town.

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
  • Sir William's pension of L1200 a year ceased with his death.

  • He's got one eye out; lost it lookin' fer a pension, I believe.

British Dictionary definitions for pension


a regular payment made by the state to people over a certain age to enable them to subsist without having to work
a regular payment made by an employer to former employees after they retire
a regular payment made to a retired person as the result of his or her contributions to a personal pension scheme
any regular payment made on charitable grounds, by way of patronage, or in recognition of merit, service, etc: a pension paid to a disabled soldier
(transitive) to grant a pension to
Derived Forms
pensionable, adjective
pensionless, adjective
Word Origin
C14: via Old French from Latin pēnsiō a payment, from pendere to pay


noun (in France and some other countries)
a relatively cheap boarding house
another name for full board
Word Origin
C17: French; extended meaning of pension grant; see pension1
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
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Word Origin and History for pension

mid-14c., "payment for services," especially "reward, payment out of a benefice" (early 14c., in Anglo-Latin), from Old French pension "payment, rent" (13c.) and directly from Latin pensionem (nominative pensio) "a payment, installment, rent," from past participle stem of pendere "pay, weigh" (see pendant). Meaning "regular payment in consideration of past service" first recorded 1520s. Meaning "boarding house, boarding school" first attested 1640s, from French, and usually in reference to places in France or elsewhere on the Continent.


1640s, "to live in a pension," from pension (n.) or else from French pensionner. Meaning "to grant a pension" is from 1702. Related: Pensioned; pensioning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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pension in Culture

pension definition

Payments made to a retired person either by the government or by a former employer.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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