adjective, pal·tri·er, pal·tri·est.

ridiculously or insultingly small: a paltry sum.
utterly worthless.
mean or contemptible: a paltry coward.

Origin of paltry

1560–70; < Low German paltrig ragged, equivalent to *palter rag (dialectal German Palter) + -ig -y1
Related formspal·tri·ly, adverbpal·tri·ness, nounun·pal·try, adjective
Can be confusedpaltry poultry

Synonyms for paltry

Antonyms for paltry Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for paltriness

Historical Examples of paltriness

  • It is sad that Shakespeare should be credited with the paltriness of lesser men.

    William Shakespeare

    John Masefield

  • And Anna had been hurt, had been made miserable, by the paltriness of this fib.

    The Benefactress

    Elizabeth Beauchamp

  • How do I know that he will not despise my meanness and paltriness?

    Town and Country Sermons

    Charles Kingsley

  • The very shabbiness and paltriness of the fib made Anna's heart yearn over the poor lady.

    The Benefactress

    Elizabeth Beauchamp

  • But his Prussian Majesty would not kindle the world for such a paltriness; and so left it hanging in a vexatious condition.

British Dictionary definitions for paltriness


adjective -trier or -triest

insignificant; meagre
worthless or petty
Derived Formspaltrily, adverbpaltriness, noun

Word Origin for paltry

C16: from Low Germanic palter, paltrig ragged
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 paltriness



1560s, probably an adjectival use of noun paltry "worthless thing" (1550s), associated with dialectal palt, pelt "trash," cognate with Middle Low German and East Frisian palte "rag," Middle Dutch palt "broken or torn fragment." Cf. Low German paltrig "rubbishy," East Frisian palterig "ragged, torn."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper