Denotation vs. Connotation

penny ante

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


[pen-ee-an-tee] /ˈpɛn iˈæn ti/
adjective, Informal.
involving a trifling sum of money; small in amount:
a penny-ante investment.
inconsiderable; minor; small-time.
1930-35, Americanism Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
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



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

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

penny ante


: 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.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for penny ante

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for penny

Scrabble Words With Friends