• noun a small coin, one hundredth of a dollar



  • (written as Cent)
    One-one hundredth of a unit of currency. This typically refers to the United States penny, equal to one-one hundredth of a United States Dollar.

Origin & History of “cent”

Centum is the Latin word for ‘hundred’ – indeed both come ultimately from the same Indo-European source, *kmtóm. It first appeared in English in the form cent in the phrase per cent (originally used apparently by the financier Sir Thomas Gresham in a letter of 1568: ‘the interest of xij per cent by the year’); this was probably borrowed from Italian per cento (it is not a genuine Latin phrase). The use of cent for a unit of currency dates from the 1780s, when it was adopted by the newly founded USA; its status as one hundredth of a dollar was officially ordained by the Continental congress on 8 August 1786.