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See also: Penny


A 2005 US penny


From Middle English peny, from Old English penning, penniġ, from Proto-Germanic *panningaz, of uncertain origin (see that page for theories). Doublet of pfennig.


  • IPA(key): /ˈpɛ.ni/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛni
  • (in compounds like "twopenny", dated) IPA(key): /pəni/


penny (plural pennies or pence or (obsolete) pens)

  1. (historical) In the United Kingdom and Ireland, a copper coin worth 1240 of a pound sterling or Irish pound before decimalisation. Abbreviation: d.
    • 1913, Mrs. [Marie] Belloc Lowndes, chapter I, in The Lodger, London: Methuen, OCLC 7780546; republished in Novels of Mystery: The Lodger; The Story of Ivy; What Really Happened, New York, N.Y.: Longmans, Green and Co., [], [1933], OCLC 2666860, page 0056:
      Thanks to that penny he had just spent so recklessly [on a newspaper] he would pass a happy hour, taken, for once, out of his anxious, despondent, miserable self. It irritated him shrewdly to know that these moments of respite from carking care would not be shared with his poor wife, with careworn, troubled Ellen.
  2. In the United Kingdom, a copper coin worth 1100 of a pound sterling. Abbreviation: p.
  3. (historical) In Ireland, a coin worth 1100 of an Irish pound before the introduction of the euro. Abbreviation: p.
  4. In the US and Canada, a one-cent coin, worth 1100 of a dollar. Abbreviation: ¢.
    • 2015 November 22, “Pennies”, in Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, season 3, episode 35, HBO:
      Holy shit! A hundred and eleven pennies! At that point, that dog had more Lincoln in him than Mary Todd.
  5. In various countries, a small-denomination copper or brass coin.
  6. A unit of nail size, said to be either the cost per 100 nails, or the number of nails per penny. Abbreviation: d.
  7. Money in general.
    to turn an honest penny

Usage notes[edit]

The plural pence is only used as a unit of currency. The plural pennies is used for other cases, in particular when referring to multiple individual coins.

Compounds (twopence, threepence, fourpence and so on up to tenpence, but not eleven pence or any higher) should be read with the stress on the first syllable and a reduced /ə/ in pence. Thus /ˈtʌpəns/, /ˈθɹʌpəns/, /ˈfɔːpəns/ and so on.


  • (1240 of a pound sterling): old penny
  • (1100 of a pound sterling): new penny (old-fashioned)
  • (one-cent coin): cent

Derived terms[edit]



penny (third-person singular simple present pennies, present participle pennying, simple past and past participle pennied)

  1. (slang) To jam a door shut by inserting pennies between the doorframe and the door.
    Zach and Ben had only been at college for a week when their door was pennied by the girls down the hall.
  2. (electronics) To circumvent the tripping of an electrical circuit breaker by the dangerous practice of inserting a coin in place of a fuse in a fuse socket.

See also[edit]




Borrowed from English penny.



penny m (plural pennys)

  1. penny

Further reading[edit]



penny m (plural pennies)

  1. Alternative spelling of péni