Definition of farthing in English:



  • 1A former monetary unit and coin of the UK, withdrawn in 1961, equal to a quarter of an old penny.

    • ‘During that period, he said, there was a national shortage of small-denomination half penny and farthing coins - so many local towns and even tradesmen took to minting their own tokens.’
    • ‘The Farthing Office was a part of the Mint and Charles II had introduced, in 1672, the copper half-penny and farthing with the Britannia type.’
    • ‘Edward I carried out a grand recoinage in 1279-80, minting new coins, silver halfpennies and farthings, to remove the need to cut, and a fourpence groat, which was not at first successful.’
    • ‘The half-penny and farthing would gradually be replaced by a half-cent and quarter-cent.’
    • ‘Prior to decimalization, the pound was divided into twenty shillings, each shilling into twelve pennies and each penny into four farthings.’
    • ‘The verdict went in favour of the companies, though with derisory damages of one farthing.’
    • ‘However, there were also crowns, farthings, guineas and sovereigns, all in varying amounts and none really compatible with any of the others.’
    • ‘Back in 1698, the mill was used to forge copper blacks for the Royal Mint to strike farthings and halfpennies.’
    • ‘He showed examples of some of the first minted Thai coins, which were actually modelled on the English farthing.’
    • ‘In the time of Samuel Pepys one farthing was worth roughly the same as a 10p coin would be today (you can compare monetary values since 1264 here).’
    • ‘Renovation work at the Blenheim Road school has also unearthed an old shilling and a farthing hidden behind the children's coat pegs.’
    • ‘We didn't save the groat, the guinea or the farthing, and thrive without them.’
    • ‘There were farthings, pennies, oxfords, crowns, florins, shillings, guineas, and pounds, among other divisions.’
    • ‘The silver farthing was worth a quarter of a penny.’
    • ‘The penny piece is now worth less in real terms than either the farthing or the decimal halfpenny when they were withdrawn from circulation.’
    • ‘Pennies were cut in half and quartered into farthings, but were never to become numerous enough or of low enough value to function as ‘small change’ during this period.’
    • ‘By next February, the punt and the penny will be going the way of the farthing and half crown, becoming curios and museum pieces.’
    • ‘Nestled inside, laying on a cushion of cloth, lay a medallion about the size of a farthing.’
    • ‘Whistler won, but was bankrupted after the judge awarded him only one farthing's damages and told him to pay the costs of the trial.’
    • ‘Well what do I get for my six pence and three farthings?’
    1. 1.1usually with negative The least possible amount.
      ‘she didn't care a farthing for the woman’
      • ‘The funny thing is that the cable TV company has never realized that the boxing public won't pay a farthing to see Jones do anything.’
      • ‘Have they, then, expended a single farthing on the improvement of that river?’
      • ‘But they did not care a farthing about defeat, to which they became accustomed.’
      • ‘Ivy Island was an inaccessible piece of barren land, not worth a farthing.’
      • ‘You don't give a farthing for any of the characters, and so the work, whatever its commercial value, is artistically nil.’
      • ‘They don't care a farthing about other peoples' feelings.’
      • ‘Izumi was standing in the middle of vast darkness, so dark that not even a farthing of dust or any particle could be seen.’
      • ‘Anybody who slogs through the first five pages of it knows perfectly well the book cares not a farthing for ideas; it's entertainment.’


Old English fēorthing, from fēortha ‘fourth’, perhaps on the pattern of Old Norse fjórthungr ‘quarter’.