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”). Of uncertain ultimate origin, but perhaps from Proto-Indo-European *polto- (“cloth”), see also Proto-Slavic *poltьno (“linen”).
Cognate with Low German palterig (“ragged, torn”), dialectal German palterig (“paltry”). Compare also Low German palte (“rag”), West Frisian palt (“rag”), Saterland Frisian Palte (“strip; band; tape”), dialectal German Palter (“rag”), Danish pjalt (“rag, tatter”), Swedish palta (“rag”). See also palterly.
- (Canada) IPA(key): /ˈpɑltɹi/
- (UK) IPA(key): /ˈpɒltɹi/, /ˈpɔːltɹi/
- (US) IPA(key): /ˈpɔltɹi/, /ˈpɑltɹi/
Audio (UK) (file)
- Trashy, trivial, of little value.
- Synonyms: insignificant, unimportant, petty, trivial
- This is indeed a paltry flyer about a silly product.
- She made some paltry excuse and left.
- 1921, Edward Sapir, Language: An introduction to the study of speech:
- There are a great many languages, like Eskimo and Nootka and, aside from paltry exceptions, the Semitic languages, that cannot compound radical elements.
- Of little monetary worth.
- Synonyms: 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.
- c. 1589–1590, Christopher Marlo[we], Tho[mas] Heywood, editor, The Famous Tragedy of the Rich Ievv of Malta. […], London: […] I[ohn] B[eale] for Nicholas Vavasour, […], published 1633, OCLC 1121318438, Act I:
- As for those Samnites, and the men of Uz,
That bought my Spanish oils and wines of Greece,
Here have I purs'd their paltry silverlings.
Fie, what a trouble 'tis to count this trash!
- 2022 July 8, Daniel Boffey, “Collapsing public support suggests Brexit is anything but done”, in The Guardian:
- Meanwhile, the trade deal has left Britain’s fishing communities screaming betrayal, unhappy with their paltry gains and facing expensive barriers to export what they have caught.
- Despicable; contemptibly unimportant.
- a paltry coward
- 1928, William Butler Yeats, Sailing to Byzantium:
- "An aged man is but a paltry thing, / A tattered coat upon a stick"
- paltry sum
- paltry rate
- paltry amount
- paltry number
- paltry price
- paltry salary
- paltry wages
- paltry fellow
- paltry pay
- paltry excuse
- paltry income
- paltry gain
- paltry compensation
- Weijnen, A.A. (2003) Etymologisch dialectwoordenboek (in Dutch), The Hague: Sdu Uitgevers, →ISBN