- 1 (abbreviation p) a small British coin and unit of money. There are 100 pence in one pound (£1). He had a few pennies in his pocket. That will be 45 pence, please. They cost 20p each.
- 2(abbreviation d) a British coin in use until 1971. There were twelve pennies in one shilling.
- 3 (North American English) a cent Word Origin Old English penig, penning of Germanic origin; related to Dutch penning, German Pfennig, perhaps also to the verb pawn and (with reference to shape) pan.Idioms all of the money We collected £700 and every penny went to charity. She’s on a high salary but I’m sure she deserves every penny. (saying) used to say that since you have started to do something, it is worth spending as much time or money as you need to in order to complete it no money at all It didn't cost a penny. He has never paid me a penny. She hasn’t got a penny to her name. (informal, especially British English) used to say that somebody has finally understood or realized something that they had not understood or realized before I had to explain the joke to her a couple of times before the penny dropped. (saying) used to ask somebody what they are thinking about (informal) to try to spend as little money as possible (old-fashioned) a lot of money I bet that cost you a pretty penny. (old-fashioned, British English) people say ‘spend a penny’ to avoid saying ‘use the toilet’ (informal) (of a person) to appear when they are not welcome or not wanted, especially when this happens regularly
very common and therefore not valuable Teachers of history are ten a penny.