World English Dictionary
penny (ˈpɛnɪ)
n , pl pennies, pence, pennies
1.  Also called (formerly): new penny, p (in Britain) a bronze coin having a value equal to one hundredth of a pound
2.  d (in Britain before 1971) a bronze or copper coin having a value equal to one twelfth of a shilling or one two-hundred-and-fortieth of a pound
3.  a former monetary unit of the Republic of Ireland worth one hundredth of a pound
4.  (in the US and Canada) a cent
5.  a coin of similar value, as used in several other countries
6.  informal chiefly (Brit) (used with a negative) the least amount of money: I don't have a penny
7.  informal chiefly (Brit) a bad penny an objectionable person or thing (esp in the phrase turn up like a bad penny)
8.  informal a pretty penny a considerable sum of money
9.  informal (Brit) spend a penny to urinate
10.  informal chiefly (Brit) the penny dropped the explanation of something was finally realized
11.  two a penny plentiful but of little value
[Old English penig, pening; related to Old Saxon penni(n)g, Old High German pfeni(n)c, German Pfennig]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. pening, penig "penny," from P.Gmc. *panninggaz (cf. O.N. penningr, Swed. pänning, O.Fris. panning, M.Du. pennic, O.H.G. pfenning, Ger. Pfennig, not recorded in Goth., where skatts is used instead), of unknown origin. The English coin was originally set at one-twelfth of a shilling and was of
silver, later copper, then bronze. There are two plural forms: pennies of individual coins, pence collectively. In translations it rendered various foreign coins of small denomination, esp. L. denarius, whence comes its abbreviation d. As Amer.Eng. colloquial for cent, it is recorded from 1889. Penniless "destitute" is attested from c.1310. Pennyweight is O.E. penega gewiht, originally the weight of a silver penny. Penny-a-liner "writer for a journal or newspaper" is attested from 1834. Penny dreadful "cheap and gory fiction" dates from c.1870. Phrase penny-wise and pound-foolish is recorded from 1607.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Penny definition

(Gr. denarion), a silver coin of the value of about 7 1/2d. or 8d. of our present money. It is thus rendered in the New Testament, and is more frequently mentioned than any other coin (Matt. 18:28; 20:2, 9, 13; Mark 6:37; 14:5, etc.). It was the daily pay of a Roman soldier in the time of Christ. In the reign of Edward III. an English penny was a labourer's day's wages. This was the "tribute money" with reference to which our Lord said, "Whose image and superscription is this?" When they answered, "Caesar's," he replied, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's" (Matt. 22:19; Mark 12:15).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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