a small amount or share.
a small allowance or sum, as of money for living expenses.
a scanty income or remuneration.

Origin of pittance

1175–1225; Middle English pitaunce < Old French pitance, variant of pietance piety, pity, allowance of food (in a monastery). See pity, -ance
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pittance

Contemporary Examples of pittance

Historical Examples of pittance

  • "You'll go on here to the end of your days, working for a pittance," he objected.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • The thought of going back to a pittance a year sickened him.

    Garrison's Finish

    W. B. M. Ferguson

  • What with Paliser Place, its upkeep and the rest of it, it must be a pittance.

    The Paliser case

    Edgar Saltus

  • One as rich as he is known to be will not object to a pittance like that.

    The Last Woman

    Ross Beeckman

  • A pittance of money is obtained, and then they search for a man.

    Thoughts on Missions

    Sheldon Dibble

British Dictionary definitions for pittance



a small amount or portion, esp a meagre allowance of money

Word Origin for pittance

C16: from Old French pietance ration, ultimately from Latin pietās duty
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 pittance

c.1200, "pious donation to a religious house or order to provide extra food; the extra food provided," also "a small portion, scanty rations," from Old French pitance "pity, mercy, compassion; refreshment, nourishment; portion of food allowed a monk or poor person by a pious bequest," apparently literally "pity," from pitié (see pity). Meaning "small amount, portion" first recorded 1560s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper