• synonyms


[pik-ee-yoon, pik-uh-]
adjective Also pic·a·yun·ish. Informal.
  1. of little value or account; small; trifling: a picayune amount.
  2. petty, carping, or prejudiced: I didn't want to seem picayune by criticizing.
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  1. (formerly, in Louisiana, Florida, etc.) a coin equal to half a Spanish real.
  2. any small coin, as a five-cent piece.
  3. Informal. an insignificant person or thing.
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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. 2018

Examples from the Web for picayunish

Historical Examples

  • Little she thought of Settlements or picayunish donations now.

    V. V.'s Eyes

    Henry Sydnor Harrison

  • Mediocrity was in the saddle, and picayunish partisan politics held the center of the boards.

    The Hindered Hand

    Sutton E. Griggs

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


    Charles Neville Buck

British Dictionary definitions for picayunish


adjective Also: picayunish US and Canadian informal
  1. of small value or importance
  2. mean; petty
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  1. the half real, an old Spanish-American coin
  2. US any coin of little value, esp a five-cent piece
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Derived Formspicayunishly, adverbpicayunishness, noun

Word Origin

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper