Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Penny

Penny is an English pet form of Penelope. Penelope, in turn, is a Greek name (Πηνελοπη), most likely derived from “pēnē” meaning “weft” (a piece of woven cloth) combined with “lepō” meaning “peel” – in other words, unweave a piece of woven cloth. This etymology makes perfect sense if you’re familiar with Penelope’s story in Greek Mythology (see Penelope’s name page for more detail). The character of Penelope in Greek Mythology is also synonymous with being a patient and faithful wife. The name Penelope first appeared in England in the 16th century, and the diminutive “Penny” followed soon after. Aside from Penny’s connection to Penelope, it’s also a vocabulary word for a unit of English currency (often referred to as “pence”). From this financial perspective, the word “penny” actually dates back to 8th century Olde English and was variably called a “pening, penig, penning” derived from the Old High German “pfenning” (of unknown meaning). The coin was abbreviated as “d.” in reference to the Latin “denarius” which was a Roman coin first minted in the 3rd century B.C. (derived from “dēnī” meaning “containing 10” indicating its original value being equivalent to 10 assess). In medieval England, the penny’s value was 1/12th of a shilling and it took twenty shillings to make a pound (240 pence). The penny was further divided into a “halfpence” and again into a “farthing” (1/4th of a penny). So the penny wasn’t always the smallest unit of currency. And in the Middle Ages, a penny went a lot further than it does today! As an independently given female name, Penny was quite popular in the middle of the 20th century; however, today the name has fallen from fashion (although it’s still used in England with mild frequency).

All About the Baby Name – Penny

Personality

OF THE GIRL NAME PENNY

The number 11 is a Master Number, and embodies heightened traits of the Two. This personality is on a life journey to find spiritual truth. They are extremely idealistic and intuitive. Elevens have a rare and exceptional spiritual energy that brings a sense of obligation to illuminate the world around them. It's a very powerful responsibility, but these people have far more potential than they know. It's important that they surrender to higher ideals. They have the capacity to see the bigger picture, and they possess the skills to inspire others spiritually. Elevens have strong diplomatic skills and can become great peacemakers. Master numbers can be both a blessing and a curse, as they walk the fine line between greatness and the potential for self-destruction.

Popularity

OF THE GIRL NAME PENNY

As a given name in her own right, Penny first appeared on the U.S. female naming charts in 1923, although she wouldn’t adhere to the Top 1000 list until 1934. Penny is one of those names that became quite fashionable very quickly. By 1943, Penny was a Top 200 favorite nationwide, and squeaked into the Top 100 for four consecutive years between 1962 and 1965. Then Penny reversed her course on the American naming charts – she descended about as fast as she had once climbed. The last year Penny would claim Top 1000 status in the United States was 1987; although she’s lurking close in the shadows. Penny is a sweet, old-fashioned name. You can always name your daughter Penelope and call her “Penny” for short.

Quick Facts

ON PENNY

GENDER:

Girl

ORIGIN:

English

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

993

PRONUNCIATION:

PEN-ee

SIMPLE MEANING:

Unwoven cloth (Penelope); or a small unit of currency

Characteristics

OF PENNY

Inspirational

Highly Intuitive

Spiritual Teacher

Extremely Bright

Uplifting

Truth-seeker

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Penny

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME PENNY

We cannot find any significant literary characters by the name of Penny

Popular Songs

ON PENNY

A Bad Penny
a song by Cat Stevens

Bittersweet Penny
a song by Eldritch

Druscilla Penny
a song by Carpenters

Oh Penny
a song by Hey Mercedes

Losing Penny
a song by The Huntingtons

Penny
a song by Night Ranger

Penny & Jenny
a song by Souls

Penny and Me
a song by Hanson

Penny (Perfect for You)
a song by Plain White T's

Penny for Your Thoughts
a song by Willie Nelson

Penny Lover
a song by Lionel Richie

Penny on the Train Tracks
a song by Ben Kweller

Pretty Penny
a song by Stone Temple Pilots

Penny was a Tomboy
a song by The King of Luxembourg

Penny Serenade
a song by Guy Lombardo

Penny Lane
a song by The Beatles

Famous People

NAMED PENNY

Carole "Penny" Marshall (actress/director)
Anfernee Deon "Penny" Hardaway (basketball player)

Children of Famous People

NAMED PENNY

We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Penny

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME PENNY

We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Penny