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”), 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.
paltry (comparative paltrier, superlative paltriest)
- 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.
1928, William Butler Yeats, Sailing to Byzantium:
"An aged man is but a paltry thing, / A tattered coat upon a stick"
- A paltry coward.
- Nouns to which "paltry" is often applied: sum, rate, amount, number, price, salary, wages, fellow, pay, excuse, income, gain, compensation.
trashy, trivial, of little value
- Bulgarian: дребен (dreben), незначителен (bg) (neznačitelen)
- Dutch: triviaal (nl), pietluttig (nl)
- Finnish: surkea (fi)
- French: dérisoire (fr)
- German: geringfügig (de), dürftig (de)
- Greek: τιποτένιος (el) m (tipoténios), ασήμαντος (el) m (asímantos), μηδαμινός (el) m (midaminós)
- Ancient: φαῦλος (phaûlos)
- Italian: ridicolo (it) m, insignificante (it) m, modesto (it) m, irrisorio (it) m, insufficiente (it) m, miserabile (it)
meager; worthless; pitiful; trifling