1. Of little value or importance; paltry. See Synonyms at trivial.
2. Petty; small-minded: "It had seemed picayune to get all bent out of shape organizing the household chores" (Barbara Kingsolver).
1. A Spanish-American half-real piece formerly used in parts of the southern United States.
2. A five-cent piece.
3. Something of very little value; a trifle: not worth a picayune.
[Louisiana French picaillon, small coin, from French, from Provençal picaioun, from picaio, money, perhaps from Old Provençal piquar, to jingle, clink, from Vulgar Latin *piccāre, to pierce; see PIQUE.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.