December 19, 2011
picayune (adjective)
\pik-ee-YOON\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: of little value : paltry; also : petty
How do you use it?
Jordan has a talent for coming up with terrific events for our school, but has no patience for dealing with all the picayune complaints they engender.
Are you a word wiz?

"Picayune" is most frequently used as an adjective, but the adjective developed from the noun "picayune." What do you think the noun "picayune" refers to?

If you put your money on C, you made the right choice. The earliest meaning of "picayune" referred to the half real, a Spanish coin used in parts of the southern United States during the first half of the 19th century. "Picayune" actually comes from the French word for the half real. A picayune wasn't worth very much, and it wasn't long before "picayune" meant "something trivial," and acquired the adjective use to describe anything of little value. The adjective also became synonymous with "petty," which means "marked by or reflective of narrow interests or sympathies" or "small-minded."
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