Penny-pinching is a compound word that first appeared in the 1600s, but wasn’t truly in popular use until the 1800s. A compound word is one that is derived from two separate words joined together. We will examine the meaning of the term penny-pinching, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Penny-pinching describes someone who saves money. Penny-pinching may mean miserly or it may mean thrifty. The idea is that a person finds it difficult to let go of even a small amount of money. The term penny-pinching was first used by Thomas Dekker in 1600 to describe miserly people. However, the term was not particularly popular until it surfaced again in the United States in the mid-1800s. Related terms are penny-pinch, penny-pinches, penny-pincher. Note that these terms are hyphenated. The sentiment may also be expressed as pinching pennies, in which case it is not hyphenated. A fairly well-known mild insult is to characterize someone as pinching a penny until it screams.


He said the airline were anti-trade unions and he accused them of penny-pinching over expenses like hotels and refreshments for staff. (The Scottish Daily Record)

Until it’s fixed, the system should not be undermined by short-sighted penny-pinching that will leave our entire community poorer in the long run. (The Staunton News Leader)

. “You’re looking at all kinds of issues compounding the problem, mounting debt in the district that we just can’t pay off … we start in the hole and through as many cuts and penny-pinches as we can, try to end the year a little less in the hole, but how long can you do that?” (The Delaware County Daily Times)

A perpetual penny-pincher for most of my life, I loved cutting back on purchases by limiting myself to only the most necessary of things. (The Daily HErald)


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