noun, plural pen·nies, (especially collectively for 2, 3) pence.

  1. a bronze coin, the 100th part of the dollars of various nations, as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States; one cent.
  2. Also called new penny. a bronze coin and monetary unit of the United Kingdom and various other nations, the 100th part of a pound. Abbreviation: p
  3. a former bronze coin and monetary unit of the United Kingdom and various other nations, the 12th part of a shilling: use phased out in 1971. Abbreviation: d.
  4. a sum of money: He spent every penny he ever earned.
  5. the length of a nail in terms of certain standard designations from twopenny to sixtypenny.


  1. Stock Exchange. of, relating to, or being penny stock: frenzied speculation in the penny market.


  1. a bad penny, someone or something undesirable.
  2. a pretty penny, Informal. a considerable sum of money: Their car must have cost them a pretty penny.
  3. spend a penny, Chiefly British Slang. to urinate: from the former cost of using a public lavatory.
  4. turn an honest penny, to earn one’s living honestly; make money by fair means: He’s never turned an honest penny in his life.


  1. a female given name, form of Penelope.

noun plural pennies or pence (pɛns)

  1. Also called (formerly): new penny (in Britain) a bronze coin having a value equal to one hundredth of a poundSymbol: p
  2. (in Britain before 1971) a bronze or copper coin having a value equal to one twelfth of a shilling or one two-hundred-and-fortieth of a poundAbbreviation: d
  3. a former monetary unit of the Republic of Ireland worth one hundredth of a pound
  4. plural pennies (in the US and Canada) a cent
  5. a coin of similar value, as used in several other countries
  6. (used with a negative) informal, mainly British the least amount of moneyI don’t have a penny
  7. a bad penny informal, mainly British an objectionable person or thing (esp in the phrase turn up like a bad penny)
  8. a pretty penny informal a considerable sum of money
  9. spend a penny British informal to urinate
  10. the penny dropped informal, mainly British the explanation of something was finally realized
  11. two a penny plentiful but of little value

n.Old English pening, penig, Northumbrian penning “penny,” from Proto-Germanic *panninggaz (cf. Old Norse penningr, Swedish pänning, Danish penge, Old Frisian panning, Old Saxon pending, Middle Dutch pennic, Dutch penning, Old High German pfenning, German Pfennig, not recorded in Gothic, where skatts is used instead), of unknown origin. Offa’s reformed coinage on light, broad flans is likely to have begun c.760-5 in London, with an awareness of developments in Francia and East Anglia. … The broad flan penny established by Offa remained the principal denomination, with only minor changes, until the fourteenth century. [Anna Gannon, “The Iconography of Early Anglo-Saxon Coinage,” Oxford, 2003] The English coin was originally set at one-twelfth of a shilling and was of silver, later copper, then bronze. There are two plural forms: pennies of individual coins, pence collectively. In translations it rendered various foreign coins of small denomination, especially Latin denarius, whence comes its abbreviation d. As American English colloquial for cent, it is recorded from 1889. Penny-a-liner “writer for a journal or newspaper” is attested from 1834. Penny dreadful “cheap and gory fiction” dates from c.1870. Phrase penny-wise and pound-foolish is recorded from c.1600. Penny-pincher “miserly person” is recorded from 1906 (as an adjective penny-pinching is recorded from 1858, American English). Penny loafers attested from 1960. In addition to the idioms beginning with penny

  • penny for your thoughts, a
  • penny pincher
  • penny saved is a penny earned, a
  • penny wise and pound foolish
  • also see:

  • in for a penny, in for a pound
  • pinch pennies
  • pretty penny
  • turn up (like a bad penny)
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