Above: A variety of coins considered to be lower-value, including an Irish 2p piece and many US pennies.
A penny (pl. pence or pennies) is a unit of currency or a coin used in several English-speaking countries:
In the USA and Canada, "penny" is normally used to refer to the coin; the quantity of money is a "cent". Elsewhere in the English-speaking world, the plural of "penny" is "pence" when referring to a quantity of money and "pennies" when referring to a number of coins. Thus a coin worth five times as much as one penny is worth five pence, but "five pennies" means five coins each of which is a penny.
In Canada, penny originally referred to pence coinage that they used until 1859 since there was a coin with the word "penny" on it (for pence). Since this was a term that they used for many years, the One Cent denomination stayed with the penny nickname ever since. The Royal Canadian Mint and the Federal Government of Canada don't officially call the One Cent coin a penny but a "One Cent" coin.
When dealing with British or Irish (pound) money, amounts of the decimal "new pence" less than £1 may be suffixed with "p", as in 2p, 5p, 26p, 72p. Pre-1971 amounts of less than 1/- (one shilling) were denoted with a "d" which derived from the term "denarius", as in 2d, 6d, 10d. The lettering "new pence" was changed to "pence" on British decimal coinage in 1982. Irish pound decimal coinage only used "p" to designate units (possibly as this sufficed for both the English word "pence", and Irish form "pingin").
Last updated: 10-21-2005 19:39:09