pennyfarthing

penny-farthing

[pen-ee-fahr-thing]
noun British.
a high bicycle of an early type, with one large wheel in front and one small wheel behind.
Also called ordinary.


Origin:
from a comparison of the size difference between the two bicycle wheels to the size difference between an old British penny and a farthing

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World English Dictionary
penny-farthing
 
n
(Brit) US name: ordinary an early type of bicycle with a large front wheel and a small rear wheel, the pedals being attached to the front wheel
 
[C20: so called because of the similarity between the relative sizes of the wheels and the relative sizes of the (old) penny and farthing coins]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

pennyfarthing
"ineffective," 1887. The noun, in ref. to the kind of bicycle with a small wheel in back and a big one in front (so called from the notion of different size coins) is first recorded 1927, long after the bicycles of this type (introduced 1860s) were obsolete. The contemporary names for them seem to have
been ordinary and bone-shaker. The modern type of bicycle, with a low seat and wheels roughly the same size, was called a safety bicycle (1877).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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