From Middle Low German paltrig (“ragged, rubbishy, worthless”), from palter, palte (“cloth, rag, shred”), from Old Saxon *paltro, *palto (“cloth, rag”), from Proto-Germanic *paltrô, *paltô (“scrap, rag, patch”). Cognate with Low German palterig (“ragged, torn”), German dialectal palterig (“paltry”). Compare also Low German palte (“rag”), West Frisian palt (“rag”), Saterland Frisian Palte (“strip; band; tape”), German dialectal Palter (“rag”), Danish pjalt (“rag, tatter”), Swedish palta (“rag”). See also palterly.
- trashy, trivial, of little value
- This is indeed a paltry flyer about a silly product.
- She made some paltry excuse and left.
- meager; worthless; pitiful; trifling
- Could someone hope to survive on such a paltry income?
- Student grants these days are paltry, and many students have to take out loans.
- William Butler Yeats, "Sailing to Byzantium"
- "An aged man is but a paltry thing, / A tattered coat upon a stick"
- Nouns to which "paltry" is often applied: sum, rate, amount, number, price, salary, wages, fellow, pay, excuse, income, gain, compensation.