[pen-shuh n; French pahn-syawn for 3]

noun, plural pen·sions [pen-shuh nz; French pahn-syawn for 3] /ˈpɛn ʃənz; French pɑ̃ˈsyɔ̃ for 3/.

a fixed amount, other than wages, paid at regular intervals to a person or to the person's surviving dependents in consideration of past services, age, merit, poverty, injury or loss sustained, etc.: a retirement pension.
an allowance, annuity, or subsidy.
(in France and elsewhere in continental Europe)
  1. a boardinghouse or small hotel.
  2. room and board.

verb (used with object)

to grant or pay a pension to.
to cause to retire on a pension (usually followed by off).

Origin of pension

1325–75; Middle English (< Old French pensïon) < Latin pēnsiōn- (stem of pēnsiō) a weighing out, hence, a paying out, installment paying, equivalent to pēns(us) (past participle of pendere to weigh out, pay by weight, equivalent to pend- verb stem + -tus past participle suffix, with dt > s) + -iōn- -ion
Related formspen·sion·a·ble, adjectivepen·sion·a·bly, adverbpen·sion·less, adjectivenon·pen·sion·a·ble, adjectiveun·pen·sion·a·ble, adjectiveun·pen·sioned, adjectiveun·pen·sion·ing, adjectivewell-pen·sioned, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pension

Contemporary Examples of pension

Historical Examples of pension

  • The practical result of the Ode was a pension of 200 a year conferred on him by Queen Anne.


    Edward J. Dent

  • This was the last I had seen of my ticket, and almost the last I had thought of my pension.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • I had no thought of this pension, at all, in coming up to town.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • Sir William's pension of L1200 a year ceased with his death.

  • He's got one eye out; lost it lookin' fer a pension, I believe.

British Dictionary definitions for pension




a regular payment made by the state to people over a certain age to enable them to subsist without having to work
a regular payment made by an employer to former employees after they retire
a regular payment made to a retired person as the result of his or her contributions to a personal pension scheme
any regular payment made on charitable grounds, by way of patronage, or in recognition of merit, service, etca pension paid to a disabled soldier


(tr) to grant a pension to
Derived Formspensionable, adjectivepensionless, adjective

Word Origin for pension

C14: via Old French from Latin pēnsiō a payment, from pendere to pay



noun (in France and some other countries)

a relatively cheap boarding house
another name for full board

Word Origin for pension

C17: French; extended meaning of pension grant; see pension 1
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 pension

mid-14c., "payment for services," especially "reward, payment out of a benefice" (early 14c., in Anglo-Latin), from Old French pension "payment, rent" (13c.) and directly from Latin pensionem (nominative pensio) "a payment, installment, rent," from past participle stem of pendere "pay, weigh" (see pendant). Meaning "regular payment in consideration of past service" first recorded 1520s. Meaning "boarding house, boarding school" first attested 1640s, from French, and usually in reference to places in France or elsewhere on the Continent.


1640s, "to live in a pension," from pension (n.) or else from French pensionner. Meaning "to grant a pension" is from 1702. Related: Pensioned; pensioning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

pension in Culture


Payments made to a retired person either by the government or by a former employer.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.