Definitions

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

  • n. A coin formerly used in Great Britain worth one fourth of a penny.
  • n. Something of very little value.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Former British unit of currency worth one-quarter of an old penny.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The fourth of a penny; a small copper coin of Great Britain, being a cent in United States currency.
  • n. A very small quantity or value.
  • n. A division of land.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An English piece of money equal to one fourth of a penny; the smallest English coin and money of account.
  • n. A division of land, probably originally a fourth of a hide; later, a quarter of an acre.
  • n. Anything very small; a small quantity.
  • n. [In the New Testament farthing is used to translate the Greek name of two small Roman coins, the assarius, worth one and a half cents, and the quadrans, a quarter of an assarius.]

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

  • n. a former British bronze coin worth a quarter of a penny

Etymologies

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

Middle English ferthing, from Old English fēorthung; see kwetwer- in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English feorðing ("a quarter"), from feorða ("fourth"), probably influenced by Old Norse fiórðungr

Examples

  • In England they have a piece they call a farthing, which is about half a cent.

    Island Nights' Entertainments

  • There is now not the slightest ground for hoping we ever shall obtain a farthing from the cottage at Honington.

    Letter 378

  • It features such useful information as "a farthing is so small that it's only used nowadays by the dwarfs."

    A Different Stripe:

  • For God does not consider how much ye bear, but what is the store from which it comes; but each at all events can bring his farthing, that is, a ready will, which is called a farthing, because it is accompanied by three things, that is, thought, word and deed.

    Catena Aurea - Gospel of Mark

  • Then he fetched a pot of milk and plenty of white bread, gave him a bright newly-coined farthing in his hand, and said, “Hans, hold that farthing fast, crumble the white bread into the milk, and stay where you are, and do not stir from that spot till I come back.”

    Household Tales

  • The farthing was a small coin used in Judea, equal to two mites.

    Barnes New Testament Notes

  • Ring and all, they have no market value; for a farthing is the least coin in our currency.

    A Relic

  • Not a farthing is the value of the honest love you hold;

    In the Days When the World Was Wide and Other Verses

  • From St. Mark's explanation, "two mites, which make a farthing," ver. 42, it may perhaps be inferred that the farthing was the commoner coin.

    Smith's Bible Dictionary

  • Of copper coins the farthing and its half, the mite, are spoken of, and these probably formed the chief native currency.

    Smith's Bible Dictionary

Comments

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  • The last farthings were minted in Britain in 1957 and ceased to be legal tender in 1960. In fact their buying power was limited well before, and few were in general circulation.

    July 17, 2008