View synonyms for penny



[ pen-ee ]


, plural pen·nies, pence.
  1. a copper and zinc U.S. coin, worth one 100th of the U.S. dollar; one cent. Previous compositions of U.S. pennies included certain percentages of nickel and steel.
  2. a coin worth one 100th of the dollar of various other nations, although several of these nations, as Australia and New Zealand, no longer use pennies.
  3. Also called new penny. a copper-plated steel, formerly bronze, coin of the United Kingdom, one 100th of a pound. : p
  4. a former bronze coin and monetary unit of the United Kingdom and various other nations, one 12th of a shilling: use phased out in 1971. : d.
  5. a sum of money:

    He spent every penny he ever earned.

  6. the length of a nail in terms of certain standard designations, as eightpenny and sixtypenny.


  1. Stock Exchange. of, relating to, or being penny stock:

    frenzied speculation in the penny market.



[ pen-ee ]


  1. a female given name, form of Penelope.


/ ˈpɛnɪ /


  1. Also called (formerly)new penny (in Britain) a bronze coin having a value equal to one hundredth of a pound p
  2. (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 pound d
  3. a former monetary unit of the Republic of Ireland worth one hundredth of a pound
  4. pennies (in the US and Canada) a cent
  5. a coin of similar value, as used in several other countries
  6. informal.
    used with a negative the least amount of money

    I don't have a penny

  7. a bad penny informal.
    an objectionable person or thing (esp in the phrase turn up like a bad penny )
  8. a pretty penny informal.
    a considerable sum of money
  9. spend a penny informal.
    to urinate
  10. the penny dropped informal.
    the explanation of something was finally realized
  11. two a penny
    plentiful but of little value

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Other Words From

  • pen·nied adjective
  • un·pen·nied adjective
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Word History and Origins

Origin of penny1

First recorded before 900; Middle English peni, Old English penig, pænig, pen(n)ning, pending, cognate with Old Frisian penning, panning, Old Saxon, Dutch penning, Old High German pfenning, phantinc, phenting ( German Pfennig ), Old Norse penningr (perhaps from Old English ); from unattested West Germanic or Germanic pandingaz, probably equivalent to unattested pand- + unattested -ingaz; -ing 3. The origin of spend a penny is from the former cost of using a public lavatory
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Word History and Origins

Origin of penny1

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

  1. a bad penny, someone or something undesirable.
  2. a pretty penny, Informal. a considerable sum of money:

    Their car must have cost them a pretty penny.

  3. spend a penny, Chiefly British Slang. to urinate.
  4. turn an honest penny, to earn one's living honestly; make money by fair means:

    He's never turned an honest penny in his life.

More idioms and phrases containing penny

  • in for a penny, in for a pound
  • pinch pennies
  • pretty penny
  • turn up (like a bad penny)
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Example Sentences

In today’s essay, I look at the bubbly trade in penny and loss-making stocks, including the crazy surge in GameStop.

From Fortune

Phil Knight, who with his wife, Penny, made the second- and third-largest donations last year according to the Chronicle, increased his wealth by about 77% over the same March-to-December period.

From Fortune

While most prison jobs pay pennies on the hour, a few prison jobs, such as making furniture, pay $1 an hour, Bryant said.

In this case, fixing just the worst fridges would cut vaccine damage in half and save lives for pennies on the dollar.

From Fortune

Now, Watson can answer 75% of the questions people ask, and Otsego County has started paying for the service, which Pokorny says costs “pennies” per conversation.

From Time

They deserve every penny and more: booking a four week tour is a huge job.

“Every single witness is inadmissible, hearsay, triple-hearsay,” said assistant state attorney Penny Brill in court yesterday.

She regressed to the mental state of a toddler lost in a J.C. Penny department store.

“I have not been paid and will not be paid a single penny,” he declared.

While there I am, getting mad at my wife for sending me cards all the time because I know she needs every penny right now.

In 1603 it was ordered that one quart of best ale, or two of small, should be sold for one penny.

Since the end of 1847, not a penny has come into his own pocket either through piano-playing and conducting, or through teaching.

A system of supplying school-children with penny dinners is the latest philanthropic movement.

In the same year he also manufactured two million penny tokens for our soldiers in Spain, which were not forbidden.

The penny at that time was equal to a shilling of the present day, and would, relatively, purchase as much.


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




Penn, Williampenny-a-liner