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penny

[pen-ee] /ˈpɛn i/
noun, plural pennies, (especially collectively for 2, 3) pence.
1.
a bronze coin, the 100th part of the dollars of various nations, as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States; one cent.
2.
Also called new penny. a bronze coin and monetary unit of the United Kingdom and various other nations, the 100th part of a pound.
Abbreviation: p.
3.
a former bronze coin and monetary unit of the United Kingdom and various other nations, the 12th part of a shilling: use phased out in 1971.
Abbreviation: d.
4.
a sum of money:
He spent every penny he ever earned.
5.
the length of a nail in terms of certain standard designations from twopenny to sixtypenny.
adjective
6.
Stock Exchange. of, pertaining to, or being penny stock:
frenzied speculation in the penny market.
Idioms
7.
a bad penny, someone or something undesirable.
8.
a pretty penny, Informal. a considerable sum of money:
Their car must have cost them a pretty penny.
9.
spend a penny, Chiefly British Slang. to urinate: from the former cost of using a public lavatory.
10.
turn an honest penny, to earn one's living honestly; make money by fair means:
He's never turned an honest penny in his life.
Origin
900
before 900; Middle English peni, Old English penig, pænig, pen(n)ing, pending, cognate with Old Frisian penning, panning, Old Saxon, Dutch penning, Old High German pfenning, phantinc, phenting (German Pfennig), Old Norse penningr (perhaps < OE); < West Germanic or Germanic *pandingaz, probably equivalent to *pand- pawn2 + *-ingaz -ing3
Related forms
pennied, adjective
unpennied, adjective
Can be confused
penne, penny.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for turn honest penny

penny

/ˈpɛnɪ/
noun (pl) pennies, pence (pɛns)
1.
Also called (formerly) new penny. (in Britain) a bronze coin having a value equal to one hundredth of a pound p
2.
(in Britain before 1971) a bronze or copper coin having a value equal to one twelfth of a shilling or one two-hundred-and-fortieth of a pound d
3.
a former monetary unit of the Republic of Ireland worth one hundredth of a pound
4.
(pl) pennies. (in the US and Canada) a cent
5.
a coin of similar value, as used in several other countries
6.
(used with a negative) (informal, mainly Brit) the least amount of money: I don't have a penny
7.
(informal, mainly Brit) a bad penny, an objectionable person or thing (esp in the phrase turn up like a bad penny)
8.
(informal) a pretty penny, a considerable sum of money
9.
(Brit, informal) spend a penny, to urinate
10.
(informal, mainly Brit) the penny dropped, the explanation of something was finally realized
11.
two a penny, plentiful but of little value
Word Origin
Old English penig, pening; related to Old Saxon penni(n)g, Old High German pfeni(n)c, German Pfennig
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 turn honest penny

penny

n.

Old English pening, penig, Northumbrian penning "penny," from Proto-Germanic *panninggaz (cf. Old Norse penningr, Swedish pänning, Danish penge, Old Frisian panning, Old Saxon pending, Middle Dutch pennic, Dutch penning, Old High German pfenning, German Pfennig, not recorded in Gothic, where skatts is used instead), of unknown origin.

Offa's reformed coinage on light, broad flans is likely to have begun c.760-5 in London, with an awareness of developments in Francia and East Anglia. ... The broad flan penny established by Offa remained the principal denomination, with only minor changes, until the fourteenth century. [Anna Gannon, "The Iconography of Early Anglo-Saxon Coinage," Oxford, 2003]
The English coin was originally set at one-twelfth of a shilling and was of silver, later copper, then bronze. There are two plural forms: pennies of individual coins, pence collectively. In translations it rendered various foreign coins of small denomination, especially Latin denarius, whence comes its abbreviation d.

As American English colloquial for cent, it is recorded from 1889. Penny-a-liner "writer for a journal or newspaper" is attested from 1834. Penny dreadful "cheap and gory fiction" dates from c.1870. Phrase penny-wise and pound-foolish is recorded from c.1600. Penny-pincher "miserly person" is recorded from 1906 (as an adjective penny-pinching is recorded from 1858, American English). Penny loafers attested from 1960.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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turn honest penny in the Bible

(Gr. denarion), a silver coin of the value of about 7 1/2d. or 8d. of our present money. It is thus rendered in the New Testament, and is more frequently mentioned than any other coin (Matt. 18:28; 20:2, 9, 13; Mark 6:37; 14:5, etc.). It was the daily pay of a Roman soldier in the time of Christ. In the reign of Edward III. an English penny was a labourer's day's wages. This was the "tribute money" with reference to which our Lord said, "Whose image and superscription is this?" When they answered, "Caesar's," he replied, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's" (Matt. 22:19; Mark 12:15).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Idioms and Phrases with turn honest penny
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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