The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Penny \Pen*ny\, n.; pl. Penniesor Pence (p[e^]ns). Pennies
denotes the number of coins; pence the amount of pennies in
value. [OE. peni, AS. penig, pening, pending; akin to D.
penning, OHG. pfenning, pfenting, G. pfennig, Icel. penningr;
of uncertain origin.]
1. A former English coin, originally of copper, then of
bronze, the twelfth part of an English shilling in account
value, and equal to four farthings, or about two cents; --
usually indicated by the abbreviation d. (the initial of
Note: "The chief Anglo-Saxon coin, and for a long period the
only one, corresponded to the denarius of the Continent
. . . [and was] called penny, denarius, or denier."
--R. S. Poole. The ancient silver penny was worth about
three pence sterling (see Pennyweight). The old
Scotch penny was only one twelfth the value of the
English coin. In the United States the word penny is
popularly used for cent.
2. Any small sum or coin; a groat; a stiver. --Shak.
3. Money, in general; as, to turn an honest penny.
What penny hath Rome borne,
What men provided, what munition sent? --Shak.
4. (Script.) See Denarius.
Penny cress (Bot.), an annual herb of the Mustard family,
having round, flat pods like silver pennies (Thlaspi
arvense). Also spelled pennycress. --Dr. Prior.
Penny dog (Zool.), a kind of shark found on the South coast
of Britain: the tope.
Penny pincher, Penny father, a penurious person; a miser;
a niggard. The latter phrase is now obsolete. --Robinson
Penny grass (Bot.), pennyroyal. [R.]
Penny post, a post carrying a letter for a penny; also, a
Penny wise, wise or prudent only in small matters; saving
small sums while losing larger; penny-wise; -- used
chiefly in the phrase, penny wise and pound foolish.