money or wealth, especially when regarded with contempt or acquired by reprehensible means.


Origin of pelf

1300–50; Middle English < Old French pelfre booty Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pelf

Historical Examples of pelf

  • The plaudits of the world sought not, but scorned its praise and pelf.

    Gleams of Sunshine

    Joseph Horatio Chant

  • All the laurel and the glory of these seeds I sell for pelf.

  • He declared that these so-called developers came for pelf, not patriotism.

    Robert Toombs

    Pleasant A. Stovall

  • The pelf and the jewels will they revive his father who had fallen by his hand?

    The Weird Orient

    Henry Iliowizi

  • This brought him pelf, but, alas for his greed, the pelf came slowly.

British Dictionary definitions for pelf



derogatory money or wealth, esp if dishonestly acquired; lucre

Word Origin for pelf

C14: from Old French pelfre booty; related to Latin pilāre to despoil
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 pelf

mid-14c., "stolen goods," from Anglo-French pelf, Old French pelfre "booty, spoils" (11c.), of unknown origin; also see pilfer. Meaning "money, riches," with a pejorative overtone first recorded c.1500.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper