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Origin of penny-ante

An Americanism dating back to 1930–35

penny ante

  1. Cards. a game of poker in which the ante or basic bet is one cent.
  2. Informal. any business arrangement or transaction involving a trifling or paltry sum of money.

Origin of penny ante

An Americanism dating back to 1850–55 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Word Origin and History for penny-ante

"cheap, trivial," 1935; extended from use in reference to poker played for insignificant stakes (1855), from penny + ante.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper