Definition of pelf in English:



mass nounarchaic
  • Money, especially when gained in a dishonest or dishonourable way.

    ‘damnation dog thee and thy wretched pelf!’
    • ‘No doubt the allure of office had something to do with it: the old corruption of rotten and pocket boroughs yielded to a new corruption of pelf and place.’
    • ‘Politics is now merely a game of power, pelf and perks.’
    • ‘Overweight and obesity are chronic problems affecting everyone without discrimination of gender or pelf.’
    • ‘With odds so heavily arrayed against the under-privileged and the ordinary, there are still voices somehow making themselves heard across the walls of silence that vested interest has been trying to erect with its power and pelf.’
    • ‘Does anyone have any doubt how effective these powerful people have been in controlling all levers of powers, pelf and privilege?’
    cash, hard cash, ready money
    View synonyms


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘booty, pilfered property’): from a variant of Old French pelfre ‘spoils’, of unknown origin. Compare with pilfer.