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Words of the day — paltry

Good morning, Netizens...

March 04, 2013

Word of the Day

  • paltry
  • audio pronunciation
  • \PAWL-tree\


: inferior, trashy
: mean, despicable
: trivial
: meager, measly

Anna told us she was tired of engaging in paltry work and longed to do something meaningful with her life.

"Monday, I tried to cheer up snow fans who have been frowning at Seattle's paltry 0.6" of snowfall this winter by stating that February has had its share of snowfall over the years." — From a post by meteorologist Scott Sistek on's weather blog, January 29, 2013


Before "paltry" was an adjective, it was a noun meaning "trash." That now obsolete noun in turn came from "palt" or "pelt," dialect terms meaning "a piece of coarse cloth," or broadly, "trash." The adjective "paltry" first meant "trashy," but it currently has a number of senses, all generally meaning "no good." A "paltry house" might be run-down and unfit for occupancy; a "paltry trick" is a trick that is low-down and dirty; a "paltry excuse" is a trivial one; and a "paltry sum" is small and insufficient.

From Merriam-Webster Online at



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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.