a female given name, form of Penelope.



noun, plural pen·nies, (especially collectively for 2, 3) pence.

a bronze coin, the 100th part of the dollars of various nations, as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States; one cent.
Also called new penny. a bronze coin and monetary unit of the United Kingdom and various other nations, the 100th part of a pound. Abbreviation: p
a former bronze coin and monetary unit of the United Kingdom and various other nations, the 12th part of a shilling: use phased out in 1971. Abbreviation: d.
a sum of money: He spent every penny he ever earned.
the length of a nail in terms of certain standard designations from twopenny to sixtypenny.


Stock Exchange. of, relating to, or being penny stock: frenzied speculation in the penny market.

Origin of penny

before 900; Middle English peni, Old English penig, pænig, pen(n)ing, pending, cognate with Old Frisian penning, panning, Old Saxon, Dutch penning, Old High German pfenning, phantinc, phenting (German Pfennig), Old Norse penningr (perhaps < OE); < West Germanic or Germanic *pandingaz, probably equivalent to *pand- pawn2 + *-ingaz -ing3

Related formspen·nied, adjectiveun·pen·nied, adjective

Can be confusedpenne penny Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pennies

British Dictionary definitions for pennies


noun plural pennies or pence (pɛns)

Also called (formerly): new penny (in Britain) a bronze coin having a value equal to one hundredth of a poundSymbol: p
(in Britain before 1971) a bronze or copper coin having a value equal to one twelfth of a shilling or one two-hundred-and-fortieth of a poundAbbreviation: d
a former monetary unit of the Republic of Ireland worth one hundredth of a pound
plural pennies (in the US and Canada) a cent
a coin of similar value, as used in several other countries
(used with a negative) informal, mainly British the least amount of moneyI don't have a penny
a bad penny informal, mainly British an objectionable person or thing (esp in the phrase turn up like a bad penny)
a pretty penny informal a considerable sum of money
spend a penny British informal to urinate
the penny dropped informal, mainly British the explanation of something was finally realized
two a penny plentiful but of little value

Word Origin for penny

Old English penig, pening; related to Old Saxon penni (n) g, Old High German pfeni (n) c, German Pfennig

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 pennies


Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with pennies


In addition to the idioms beginning with penny

  • penny for your thoughts, a
  • penny pincher
  • penny saved is a penny earned, a
  • penny wise and pound foolish

also see:

  • in for a penny, in for a pound
  • pinch pennies
  • pretty penny
  • turn up (like a bad penny)
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.