[ pawl-tree ]
/ ˈpɔl tri /

adjective, pal·tri·er, pal·tri·est.

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

Nearby words

  1. palstave,
  2. palsy,
  3. palsy-walsy,
  4. palter,
  5. paltrow,
  6. paludal,
  7. paludamentum,
  8. paludism,
  9. paludrine,
  10. palustrine

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

Examples from the Web for paltry

British Dictionary definitions for paltry


/ (ˈpɔːltrɪ) /

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 paltry



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