Puny things and people are too small or too weak: they're not big enough, and not strong enough. Puny sizes and puny amounts of things are not enough, or not enough to be important. Puny things might be cute, but they might not—and "puny" doesn't mean "cute;" it means "too thin, too small."
For example, a puny baby bird might be too weak to survive. And puny trees are weak, small, and thin: they're not strong enough to climb on, and they're not big enough to give you shade.
Puny voices are too quiet and too weak to be heard. Puny muscles are too weak to do work. This actor, DJ Qualls, plays lots of puny characters. With his skinny frame and his thin, delicate face, he's good at talking in a puny voice, pretending to be weak and quiet and unimportant.
Puny amounts of things are not enough. Imagine you spent seven hours at school, but only ten minutes actually learning. That's a puny amount of learning! Now imagine you're at a parade, trying to catch candy as it's thrown into the crowds. All your friends catch ten or twenty pieces of candy each, but you catch only one piece. You might complain: "They got so many! I got this one puny little piece." (Actually, that's better than zero pieces, right?)
Anything can seem puny if you think about it in relation to something bigger or stronger or more important. When you look at a map of the whole solar system, our little planet Earth seems puny: it seems tiny and not at all important.
"Puny" is a very useful word, but it's not a very nice word: we use it to complain about how things (or even people) are too small and too weak. I don't know about you, but my feelings would be hurt if someone said I looked puny or had puny muscles!
Make a flash card:
You can write your own definition and choose your own picture, or copy mine.
not large enough, or not powerful enough
Write your own sentence!
You can use either of the two ideas I'll suggest, or you can invent your own. Include as much detail as you can!