adjective, pal·tri·er, pal·tri·est.

  1. ridiculously or insultingly small: a paltry sum.
  2. utterly worthless.
  3. mean or contemptible: a paltry coward.

adjective -trier or -triest

  1. insignificant; meagre
  2. worthless or petty

adj.1560s, probably an adjectival use of noun paltry “worthless thing” (1550s), associated with dialectal palt, pelt “trash,” cognate with Middle Low German and East Frisian palte “rag,” Middle Dutch palt “broken or torn fragment.” Cf. Low German paltrig “rubbishy,” East Frisian palterig “ragged, torn.”

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