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  • 1A former monetary unit and coin of the UK, withdrawn in 1961, equal to a quarter of an old penny.

    • ‘Well what do I get for my six pence and three farthings?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Back in 1698, the mill was used to forge copper blacks for the Royal Mint to strike farthings and halfpennies.’
    • ‘The penny piece is now worth less in real terms than either the farthing or the decimal halfpenny when they were withdrawn from circulation.’
    • ‘The verdict went in favour of the companies, though with derisory damages of one farthing.’
    • ‘The half-penny and farthing would gradually be replaced by a half-cent and quarter-cent.’
    • ‘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).’
    • ‘There were farthings, pennies, oxfords, crowns, florins, shillings, guineas, and pounds, among other divisions.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘However, there were also crowns, farthings, guineas and sovereigns, all in varying amounts and none really compatible with any of the others.’
    • ‘The silver farthing was worth a quarter of a penny.’
    • ‘Prior to decimalization, the pound was divided into twenty shillings, each shilling into twelve pennies and each penny into four farthings.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Renovation work at the Blenheim Road school has also unearthed an old shilling and a farthing hidden behind the children's coat pegs.’
    • ‘Nestled inside, laying on a cushion of cloth, lay a medallion about the size of a farthing.’
    • ‘He showed examples of some of the first minted Thai coins, which were actually modelled on the English farthing.’
    • ‘We didn't save the groat, the guinea or the farthing, and thrive without them.’
    • ‘By next February, the punt and the penny will be going the way of the farthing and half crown, becoming curios and museum pieces.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1usually with negative The least possible amount.
      ‘she didn't care a farthing for the woman’
      • ‘Anybody who slogs through the first five pages of it knows perfectly well the book cares not a farthing for ideas; it's entertainment.’
      • ‘They don't care a farthing about other peoples' feelings.’
      • ‘Have they, then, expended a single farthing on the improvement of that river?’
      • ‘Izumi was standing in the middle of vast darkness, so dark that not even a farthing of dust or any particle could be seen.’
      • ‘You don't give a farthing for any of the characters, and so the work, whatever its commercial value, is artistically nil.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’


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