He was an esy man to yeve penaunce
There as he wiste to have a good pitaunce;

from Geoffrey Chaucer – The Canterbury Tales (General Prologue) on Rap Genius

Meaning

(= He was a lenient man, when giving penance / Where he expected to receive a nice donation)

‘Pitaunce’ literally refers to the supposedly strict list of items that Friars were allowed to receive for hearing confession; usually food or wine to be consumed on a Christian feast night. The word is now spelt ‘pittance’ and its primary meaning (a tiny sum of money) derives from this.

It’s clear, though, in this instance, that Chaucer is using it not to refer to the food the Friar will get, but the

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