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[pit-ns] /ˈpɪt ns/
a small amount or share.
a small allowance or sum, as of money for living expenses.
a scanty income or remuneration.
Origin of pittance
1175-1225; Middle English pitaunce < Old French pitance, variant of pietance piety, pity, allowance of food (in a monastery). See pity, -ance Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pittance
  • People wonder if they are earning every possible penny on their pittance.
  • Cutting civil-service pay seems unfair to officials who earn a pittance.
  • Untouchables work for a pittance washing clothes at dawn.
  • The king responded with an insulting reward that was but a pittance for his work.
  • Usually, however, these refunds are a pittance compared to the revenue click fraud generates for them.
  • People cannot expect to trade a pittance for pearls.
  • Furthermore, campuses have a ready pool of part-timers willing to labor for the pittance.
  • Since no one is getting much more than a pittance from the state, there's not much to get upset about.
  • Nor does it provide for the service of ministers, who say they often end up with a pittance.
  • They publish on demand, give the author a few free copies and a pittance for royalties.
British Dictionary definitions for pittance


a small amount or portion, esp a meagre allowance of money
Word Origin
C16: from Old French pietance ration, ultimately from Latin pietās duty
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for pittance

c.1200, "pious donation to a religious house or order to provide extra food; the extra food provided," also "a small portion, scanty rations," from Old French pitance "pity, mercy, compassion; refreshment, nourishment; portion of food allowed a monk or poor person by a pious bequest," apparently literally "pity," from pitié (see pity). Meaning "small amount, portion" first recorded 1560s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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