9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[pawl-tree] /ˈpɔl tri/
adjective, paltrier, paltriest.
ridiculously or insultingly small:
a paltry sum.
utterly worthless.
mean or contemptible:
a paltry coward.
Origin of paltry
1560-70; < Low German paltrig ragged, equivalent to *palter rag (dialectal German Palter) + -ig -y1
Related forms
paltrily, adverb
paltriness, noun
unpaltry, adjective
Can be confused
paltry, poultry.
1. minor, inconsiderable, slight, insignificant. See petty.
1. important, major. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for paltry
  • According to the association's analysis, categories of workers who received any median salary increases saw only paltry ones.
  • New York's 7.5 million people face a housing market infamous for skyscraper-high prices and paltry options.
  • The result: a tiny screen with 1.4 million pixels, compared with the paltry 200000 on most electronic viewfinders.
  • As late as 1967, the average baseball player's salary was less than $20000, with paltry pension benefits.
  • With a paltry $20 million budget, the plan worked.
  • Some of the airlines offer a paltry supply of reward seats.
  • Adjuncts have to be committed to students, or else we wouldn't keep doing this work for the paltry pay we receive.
  • Is that a reward for time logged or a balm to soothe the pain of a paltry showing? Unclear.
  • It also devotes more of its paltry income to defence than education or health.
  • Unfortunately, there have been a paltry handful of studies tracking the masturbatory behaviors of nonhuman primates.
British Dictionary definitions for paltry


adjective -trier, -triest
insignificant; meagre
worthless or petty
Derived Forms
paltrily, adverb
paltriness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Low Germanic palter, paltrig ragged
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for paltry

1560s, probably an adjectival use of noun paltry "worthless thing" (1550s), associated with dialectal palt, pelt "trash," cognate with Middle Low German and East Frisian palte "rag," Middle Dutch palt "broken or torn fragment." Cf. Low German paltrig "rubbishy," East Frisian palterig "ragged, torn."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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