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See more synonyms for pittance on Thesaurus.com
  1. a small amount or share.
  2. a small allowance or sum, as of money for living expenses.
  3. a scanty income or remuneration.
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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. 2018

Related Words for pittance

trifle, drop, trace, scrap, ration, inadequacy, insufficiency, modicum, portion, pension, bit, mite, smidgen, dribble, allowance

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


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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper