Nobody knows how pennies acquired their name. The term "penny" may derive from "pawning" - the coin represented a pledge for a debt to someone. Or it may derive from the the old German Frypan (a frying pan!) on account of its shape. It might be so named because of the Latin word for a pound - a pondus. It may even derive from the coins the Carthaginian (i.e. Punic) traders used.