[ pik-ee-yoon, pik-uh- ]
/ ˌpɪk iˈyun, ˌpɪk ə- /

adjective Also pic·a·yun·ish. Informal.

of little value or account; small; trifling: a picayune amount.
petty, carping, or prejudiced: I didn't want to seem picayune by criticizing.


(formerly, in Louisiana, Florida, etc.) a coin equal to half a Spanish real.
any small coin, as a five-cent piece.
Informal. an insignificant person or thing.

Nearby words

  1. picaresque,
  2. picaro,
  3. picaroon,
  4. picasso,
  5. picasso, pablo,
  6. piccadilly,
  7. piccadilly circus,
  8. piccalilli,
  9. piccanin,
  10. piccaninny

Origin of picayune

1780–90; < Provençal picaioun small copper coin (compare French picaillons), derivative of an onomatopoetic base *pikk- beat, here referring to the coining of coppers

Related formspic·a·yun·ish·ly, adverbpic·a·yun·ish·ness, noun

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for picayunish

  • I have become what I am, because to me the broad canvas alone is interesting, and picayunish prejudices are contemptible.

    Destiny|Charles Neville Buck
  • Mediocrity was in the saddle, and picayunish partisan politics held the center of the boards.

    The Hindered Hand|Sutton E. Griggs
  • Little she thought of Settlements or picayunish donations now.

    V. V.'s Eyes|Henry Sydnor Harrison

British Dictionary definitions for picayunish


/ (ˌpɪkəˈjuːn) /

adjective Also: picayunish US and Canadian informal

of small value or importance
mean; petty


the half real, an old Spanish-American coin
US any coin of little value, esp a five-cent piece
Derived Formspicayunishly, adverbpicayunishness, noun

Word Origin for picayune

C19: from French picaillon coin from Piedmont, from Provençal picaioun, of unknown origin

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 picayunish



1804, "coin of small value," probably from Louisiana French picaillon "coin worth 5 cents," earlier the French name of an old copper coin of Savoy (1750), from Provençal picaioun "small copper coin," from picaio "money," of uncertain origin. Adjectival figurative sense of "paltry, mean" recorded from 1813.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper