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penny ante

noun
1.
Cards. a game of poker in which the ante or basic bet is one cent.
2.
Informal. any business arrangement or transaction involving a trifling or paltry sum of money.
Origin of penny ante
1850-1855
1850-55, Americanism

penny-ante

[pen-ee-an-tee] /ˈpɛn iˈæn ti/
adjective, Informal.
1.
involving a trifling sum of money; small in amount:
a penny-ante investment.
2.
inconsiderable; minor; small-time.
Origin
1930-35, Americanism
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for penny ante
Historical Examples
  • Then he treated to cigarettes, and we all went back to our game of penny ante.

  • He called the other maverick schools he'd given grants, and the penny ante commercial organizations he'd set on their feet.

    The Great Gray Plague Raymond F. Jones
  • I couldn't blow in until after work, but even as late as it was, I won $4.90 at penny ante, and it tickled me most to death.

    Living Up to Billy Elizabeth Cooper
  • I'll ride you any race you like, anywhere you like and at any time; provided it's a gentleman's game and not penny ante.

    The Short Cut Jackson Gregory
  • Two of the Gang ambled in with noisy proposals in regard to a game of poker, penny ante, but the thought of cards bored him.

    The Trail of the Hawk Sinclair Lewis
Word Origin and History for penny ante

penny-ante

adj.

"cheap, trivial," 1935; extended from use in reference to poker played for insignificant stakes (1855), from penny + ante.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for penny ante

penny ante

adjective

: I despised his penny-ante ideas

noun phrase

A trivial transaction; a cheap offer, arrangement, etc (1935+)

[fr the minimal ante required in a cheap poker game]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Difficulty index for penny ante

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for penny

10
12
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