Definition of pittance in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpɪt(ə)ns/


1 [usually in singular] A very small or inadequate amount of money: he paid his workers a pittance
More example sentences
  • It does give some money - a pittance - to some boys and girls.
  • So I'll have at least a tiny pittance of spending money for a few days, before it runs out again.
  • Two of the world's richest men, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, say they'll leave what amounts to a pittance to their children.
a very small amount, a tiny amount, an insufficient amount, next to nothing, very little
informal peanuts, chicken feed, slave wages, a shoestring
North American informal chump change
2 historical A pious bequest to a religious house or order to provide extra food and wine at particular festivals, or on the anniversary of the benefactor’s death.


Middle English: from Old French pitance, from medieval Latin pitantia, from Latin pietas 'pity'.

  • pity from Middle English:

    Latin pius meant ‘pious’(Late Middle English) but had a wider range of meanings than the word does in modern English, to include a wide range of moral qualities from being dutiful to your parents to being loyal, affectionate, compassionate, and kind. The Latin noun was pietas, and this, via French, became both pity and piety (originally used in the same sense as ‘pity’), both Middle English. Pietas also developed a medieval Latin form pitantia, which meant ‘a charitable donation’ and the meagre daily dole of food given out to monks and also to paupers. From this comes Middle English pittance.

Words that rhyme with pittance

acquittance, admittance, intermittence, quittance, remittance

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pit|tance

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