Penny

Origin: Greek, Germanic

Meaning: Penny is usually used as a nickname for Penelope, a Greek feminine name of uncertain etymology but which could be derived from Greek penelops, referring to a type of duck.

Penelope could be also be derived from Greek pene (threads, weft) and ops (face, eye). This meaning seems more fitting for the character in Greek mythology: Penelope, the wife of Odysseus, who was apparently faithful to him for the twenty years he was gone, despite the many persistant suitors who attempt to woo her with marriage. In an attempt to ward off their persistance, Penelope tells them that she will choose a suitor when she has finished weaving a burial shroud for Odysseus, though every night she undoes some of it to give her more time. This goes on for 3 years before her trick is discovered.

Penelope (or Penelopeia) is also the name of a dryad, the daughter of Dryops and portrayed as the mother of Pan, the god of shepherds and hunters.

Penny is also a coin, an Old English word derived from a Proto-Germanic source of unknown meaning.

Variants:

  • Penelope (Greek)
  • Pénélope (French)
  • Penélope (Spanish, Portuguese)