Definition of penny plain in English:

penny plain


  • Plain and simple.

    ‘a penny plain version that takes away some of the character from the piece’
    • ‘Some chapters in this new collection are penny plain, like the folksy title essay which seems to be aimed at softening or humanising the famously macho caste of philosophers.’
    • ‘If the tinsel print was of the ‘penny plain’ variety, the hobbyist took the portrait sheet home and painted in his own colors.’
    • ‘West and his imitators, with their high artwork standards, were undercut by the cheaper penny plain, tuppenny coloured firms that adjusted output to the nursery market and reworked ossifying favourites rather than attempting the latest West End releases.’
    • ‘West saw the potential of the new craze and responded by producing sheets of characters, which he sold at ‘a penny plain and twopenny coloured’: ‘juvenile drama’ was born.’
    plain, unadorned, undecorated, unembellished, unornamented, without ornament, without ornamentation, unelaborate, unpretentious, unostentatious, unfussy, no-nonsense, basic, modest, unsophisticated, without frills, honest, homely, homespun, everyday, workaday
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Mid 19th century: with reference to prints of characters sold for toy theatres, costing one penny for black-and-white ones, and two pennies for coloured ones.