Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A meager monetary allowance, wage, or remuneration.
  • n. A very small amount: not a pittance of remorse.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A small allowance of food and drink; a scanty meal.
  • n. A meagre allowance of money or wages.
  • n. A small amount.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An allowance of food bestowed in charity; a mess of victuals; hence, a small charity gift; a dole.
  • n. A meager portion, quantity, or allowance; an inconsiderable salary or compensation.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An allowance or dole of food and drink; hence, any very small portion or allowance assigned or given, whether of food or money; allowance; provision; dole.
  • n. An allowance of food or money bestowed in charity; a small charitable gift or payment.
  • n. A small portion or quantity; a morsel.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an inadequate payment

Etymologies

Middle English pitance, from Old French, allowance of food to a monk or poor person, from Medieval Latin pietantia, from *pietāns, *pietant-, present participle of *pietāre, to show compassion, from Latin pietās, piety; see pity.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin pietantia (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • As he's presently unemployed, my pittance is helping keep food on the table.

    Up The Hill Backwards

  • The Overland, having in fact infinitely more prestige than cash, promised the 23-year-old author $5 for his story but delayed payment so insistently that London had to storm the office and almost literally shake the pittance from the trousers of the magazine's editor.

    “. . .confusion to the Mounted Police!”

  • Or should be grateful for whatever pittance is tossed their general direction despite the fact no other industry "expects" this.

    Back on Track...

  • I don´t even want to consider what that 600 sf apartment on Russian Hill we sold for a pittance is worth today.

    Rainy Season? What�s That?

  • Does anyone else recall those wonderful pit boots you could aquire for a pittance from the miners stores during the ‘troubles’ of the 80’s?

    Kit Freak « POLICE INSPECTOR BLOG

  • The fact the allotment for transit has historically been a pittance is a matter of political ineptitude and ideology.

    Streetcar of Sam’s desire on track « Stephen Rees’s blog

  • And what is worse than all, the pittance, which is rightly theirs, comes to them often in a way which, to say the least, is suggestive of charity given and received.

    Janet's Love and Service

  • English officer with his miserable pittance, which is totally inadequate to his rank and station!

    Diary in America, Series One

  • Then, I can't wear them, if I should take them; so they can be of no use to me: And I trust I shall not want the poor pittance, that is all I desire to keep life and soul together.

    Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded

  • You call the pittance they were given to stay alive (compared to what was given to Wall Street) an "exorbitant amount of money".

    Think Progress

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Comments

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  • pittance..pit reverse tip..
    Small amount

    November 13, 2013

  • "An inadequate payment"

    August 13, 2007