[ pit-ns ]
/ ˈpɪt ns /


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

Nearby words

  1. pitt, william,
  2. pitt-rivers,
  3. pitta,
  4. pitta bread,
  5. pittacus,
  6. pitted,
  7. pitted keratolysis,
  8. pitter-patter,
  9. pitting,
  10. pitting edema

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

British Dictionary definitions for pittance


/ (ˈpɪtəns) /


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