Open main menu



Probably from French picaillon, the name of a French coin, from Occitan picaioun (coin), from picaio (money).



picayune (comparative more picayune, superlative most picayune)

  1. (informal, Canada, US) Petty, trivial; of little consequence; small and of little importance.
    Synonyms: picayunish, petty, trivial, worthless
    • 1997, David Foster Wallace, “A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again”, in A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, Kindle edition, Little, Brown Book Group:
      It’s also representative of a psychological syndrome that I notice has gotten steadily worse as the Cruise wears on, a mental list of dissatisfactions and grievances that started picayune but has quickly become nearly despair-grade.
    • 2005, New York Times, November 17, 2005
      "It might seem like a picayune matter, akin to the rivalry in the film "Monty Python's Life of Brian" between the Judean People's Front, the Judean Popular People's Front and the People's Front of Judea."
  2. Small-minded; childishly spiteful, tending to go on about unimportant things.


picayune (plural picayunes)

  1. (US, especially Louisiana, archaic) A small coin of the value of six-and-a-quarter cents; a fippenny bit.
  2. (archaic) A five-cent piece.
  3. (informal) Something of very little value; a trifle.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:trifle
  4. An argument, fact, corner case, or other issue raised (often intentionally) that distracts from a larger issue at hand or fails to make any difference.

Further readingEdit