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[poh-nee] /ˈpoʊ ni/
noun, plural ponies.
a small horse of any of several breeds, usually not higher at the shoulder than 14½ hands (58 in./146 cm).
a horse of any small type or breed.
Slang. a literal translation or other text, used illicitly as an aid in schoolwork or while taking a test; crib.
something small of its kind.
a small glass for liquor.
the amount of liquor it will hold, usually one ounce (29.6 ml).
a small beverage bottle, often holding seven ounces (196 grams):
We bought a dozen ponies of Mexican beer.
Older Slang. a diminutive chorus girl.
British Slang. the sum of 25 pounds.
verb (used with object), ponied, ponying.
Slang. to prepare (lessons) by means of a pony.
Racing Slang.
  1. to be the outrider for (a racehorse).
  2. to exercise (a racehorse) by having a rider mounted on another horse lead it at a gallop around a track.
verb (used without object), ponied, ponying.
to prepare a lesson or lessons with the aid of a pony.
pony up, Informal. to pay (money), as in settling an account:
Next week you'll have to pony up the balance of the loan.
Origin of pony
obsolete French
1650-60; earlier powney < obsolete French poulenet, diminutive of poulain colt < Medieval Latin pullānus (Latin pull(us) foal + -ānus -an); see -et Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for pony
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The pony swung to the left and came to a halt close in under the bank.

    Out of the Depths Robert Ames Bennet
  • If we could each keep a pony and go for rides on the hills, it would be ripping!

  • "Hard work for the old gentleman," said he, pointing to the pony.

    Debit and Credit Gustav Freytag
  • Get a third pony if you can, but I guess I'm not going to give up Lady to anybody.

  • Yes, there they were—the pony with a small, red flag stuck in the browband of his bridle.

    The Red Moccasins Morrison Heady
British Dictionary definitions for pony


noun (pl) ponies
any of various breeds of small horse, usually under 14.2 hands
  1. a small drinking glass, esp for liqueurs
  2. the amount held by such a glass
anything small of its kind
(Brit, slang) a sum of £25, esp in bookmaking
(US, slang) Also called trot. a literal translation used by students, often illicitly, in preparation for foreign language lessons or examinations; crib
See also pony up
Word Origin
C17: from Scottish powney, perhaps from obsolete French poulenet a little colt, from poulain colt, from Latin pullus young animal, foal
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 pony

1650s, powny, from Scottish, apparently from obsolete French poulenet "little foal" (mid-15c.), diminutive of Old French poulain "foal," from Late Latin pullanus "young of an animal," from Latin pullus "young of a horse, fowl, etc." (see foal (n.)) [Skeat's suggestion, still accepted].

German, sensibly, indicates this animal by attaching a diminutive suffix to its word for "horse," which might yield Modern English *horslet. Modern French poney is a 19c. borrowing from English. Meaning "crib of a text as a cheating aid" (1827) and "small liquor glass" (1849) both are from notion of "smallness" (the former also "something one rides"). As the name of a popular dance, it dates from 1963. The U.S. Pony Express began 1860 (and operated about 18 months before being superseded by the transcontinental telegraph). The figurative one-trick pony is 1897, American English, in reference to circus acts.


1824, in pony up "to pay," of uncertain origin. OED says from pony (n.), but not exactly how. In other sources said to be from slang use of Latin legem pone to mean "money" (first recorded 16c.), because this was the title of the Psalm for March 25, a Quarter Day and the first payday of the year (the Psalm's first line is Legem pone michi domine viam iustificacionum "Teach me, O Lord, the ways of thy statutes").

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



  1. A literal translation of a foreign-language school text, used as a cheating aid (1827+ Students)
  2. Any cheating aid used by a student (1970s+)
  3. A small, bell-shaped liquor glass, used esp for brandy and liqueurs (1849+)
  4. A racehorse: Do you follow the ponies? (1907+)
  5. A chorus girl or burlesque dancer: The ponies slumped into place (1905+)

[in all senses fr the thing being small like a pony; the student senses, which have or have had horse and trot as synonyms, may also suggest something that carries one, gives one a free ride]

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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Idioms and Phrases with pony


In addition to the idioms beginning with pony pony up also see: dog-and-pony show
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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