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adjective prod·i·gal \ˈprä-di-gəl\

Simple Definition of prodigal

  • : carelessly and foolishly spending money, time, etc.

Full Definition of prodigal

  1. 1 :  characterized by profuse or wasteful expenditure :  lavish <a prodigal feast> <prodigal outlays for her clothes>

  2. 2 :  recklessly spendthrift <the prodigal prince>

  3. 3 :  yielding abundantly :  luxuriant —often used with of <nature has been so prodigal of her bounty — H. T. Buckle>

prod·i·gal·i·ty play \ˌprä-də-ˈga-lə-tē\ noun
prod·i·gal·ly play \ˈprä-di-g(ə-)lē\ adverb

Examples of prodigal

  1. We sipped our beers and wondered at one another, at what was left of all that and of those prodigal days. —Michael Chabon, A Model World and Other Stories, 1991

  2. Mr. Bulstrode replied without haste, but also without hesitation. “I am grieved, though, I confess, not surprised by this information, Mr. Lydgate. For my own part, I regretted your alliance with my brother-in-law's family, which has always been of prodigal habits, and which has already been much indebted to me for sustainment in its present position…” —George Eliot, Middlemarch, 1872

  3. The prodigal use of antibiotics in animals has the same consequence as their overprescription for human beings. —Cullen Murphy, New York Times Book Review, 10 June l984

  4. <the prodigal child always spent her allowance the minute she got it>

Origin of prodigal

Latin prodigus, from prodigere to drive away, squander, from pro-, prod- forth + agere to drive — more at pro-, agent

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of prodigal

profuse, lavish, prodigal, luxuriant, lush, exuberant mean giving or given out in great abundance. profuse implies pouring forth without restraint <profuse apologies>. lavish suggests an unstinted or unmeasured profusion <a lavish party>. prodigal implies reckless or wasteful lavishness threatening to lead to early exhaustion of resources <prodigal spending>. luxuriant suggests a rich and splendid abundance <a luxuriant beard>. lush suggests rich, soft luxuriance <a lush green lawn>. exuberant implies marked vitality or vigor in what produces abundantly <an exuberant imagination>.



noun prod·i·gal \ˈprä-di-gəl\

Definition of prodigal

  1. 1 :  one who spends or gives lavishly and foolishly

  2. 2 :  one who has returned after an absence

Examples of prodigal

  1. Such a trustee had been first instituted by the praetor, to save a family from the blind havoc of a prodigal or madman… —Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 1788

  2. <the million-dollar lottery winner was such a prodigal that his windfall was exhausted after only a few years>

Origin of prodigal

(see 1prodigal)

First Known Use: 1561

Seen and Heard

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February 8, 2016

to clear from accusation or blame

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