[hey-puh-nee, heyp-nee]

noun, plural half·pen·nies for 1; half·pence [hey-puh ns] /ˈheɪ pəns/ for 2.

a bronze coin of the United Kingdom, equal to half a penny: use phased out in 1984.
the sum of half a penny.


of the price or value of a halfpenny.
of little value; worthless: a halfpenny matter.
British Informal. (of newspapers) sensational, especially morbidly or offensively so.

Origin of halfpenny

First recorded in 1225–75, halfpenny is from the Middle English word halfpeny, halpeny. See half, penny
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for halfpenny

Historical Examples of halfpenny

  • Mr Adams was found to have no more than one halfpenny about him.

    Joseph Andrews Vol. 1

    Henry Fielding

  • Now, she no longer gave a halfpenny; she worked off the amount solely by the washing.


    Emile Zola

  • Of course, a halfpenny a night sounds nothing, but think of a shilling a month!

  • Ninepence was the sum he had to take home every night, and there was not a halfpenny to spare.

  • Your Holiness must not accept for truth all that is printed in the halfpenny papers.

British Dictionary definitions for halfpenny




Also called: half plural -pennies a small British coin worth half a new penny, withdrawn from circulation in 1985
plural -pennies an old British coin worth half an old penny
plural -pence the sum represented by half a penny
plural -pence something of negligible value
(modifier) having the value or price of a halfpenny
(modifier) of negligible value
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 halfpenny

mid-13c. (though implied in Old English healfpenigwurð "halfpenny-worth"); see half + penny.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper