fru·​gal | \ ˈfrü-gəl How to pronounce frugal (audio) \

Definition of frugal

: characterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resources

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Other Words from frugal

frugally \ ˈfrü-​gə-​lē How to pronounce frugally (audio) \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for frugal

sparing, frugal, thrifty, economical mean careful in the use of one's money or resources. sparing stresses abstention and restraint. sparing in the offering of advice frugal implies absence of luxury and simplicity of lifestyle. ran a frugal household thrifty stresses good management and industry. thrifty use of nonrenewable resources economical stresses prudent management, lack of wastefulness, and use of things to their best advantage. an economical health-care plan

Frugal Has Surprising Roots

Those who are frugal are unwilling to (lavishly) enjoy the fruits of their labors, so it may surprise you to learn that frugal ultimately derives from the Latin frux, meaning "fruit" or "value," and is even a distant cousin of the Latin word for "enjoy" (frui). The connection between fruit/value and restraint was first made in Latin; the Middle French word that English speakers eventually adopted as frugal came from the Latin adjective frugalis, a frux descendant meaning "virtuous" or "frugal." Although English speakers adopted frugal by the late 16th century, they were already lavishly supplied with earlier coinages to denote the idea, including sparing and thrifty.

Examples of frugal in a Sentence

His meals are the frugal fare of the poor: tea, bread, yogurt, a bit of cheese, vegetables. — Johanna McGeary, Time, 25 Oct. 2004 Like frugal cooks everywhere, Cajun cooks from generations past found plenty of ways to use every part of the animals they raised. — Jeremy Sauer, Cook's Country, June 1995 In a frugal white frame house of tiny rooms that shook with every passing freight train, five boys of German immigrant background had grown up at the turn of the twentieth century. — Robert D. Kaplan, An Empire Wilderness, 1988 a frugal meal of bread and cheese by being frugal, the family is able to stretch its monthly budget
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Recent Examples on the Web His life was mostly frugal: rising early to practise yoga; working daily at his desk, in his mustard-yellow chair beside a huge map of the world; nibbling rice and corn mealby hand, the African way. The Economist, "Obituary: Robert Mugabe died on September 6th," 12 Sep. 2019 With a transcendent talent like Chapman, even the most frugal of organizations should want to stand up and face the beautiful music. Shayna Rubin, The Mercury News, "Behind the rhythm of ‘DJ Matt Chapman’: A third base revolution for our eyes, ears," 3 Sep. 2019 And part of that is because horror, for the most part, is a famously frugal genre. Richard Newby, The Hollywood Reporter, "'It: Chapter Two' and the Weight of Expectations," 7 Sep. 2019 The point of a decision like that is to show how frugal the royals can be—they're just regular people, flying on a regular plane. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Could Fly Commercial—But It Won't Stop the Backlash," 22 Aug. 2019 Secret Santa is a frugal woman's best friend All the budgeting in the world won't help if there are simply too many people on your list. Carmen Wong Ulrich, Good Housekeeping, "Spend Less, Give More," 15 Nov. 2011 Or try a series of smaller changes, like spending less on a hobby, cutting the cable cord and being more frugal at the supermarket. Dallas News, "Motley Fool: Investing in Amazon, budgeting steps and this week's trivia," 18 Aug. 2019 This all appears pretty frugal; however, there is also the small matter of the Royal Train, which is still occasionally used by members of the family. Victoria Murphy, Town & Country, "How Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family Really Travel," 10 Aug. 2019 Carry on: Since airlines began charging for checked bags, frugal passengers have embraced carry-ons — leading to fights for precious overhead storage space. Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Cal Inc.: It’s not about the Equifax settlement cash. It’s about sending a message," 5 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'frugal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of frugal

1590, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for frugal

Middle French or Latin; Middle French, from Latin frugalis virtuous, frugal, from frug-, frux fruit, value; akin to Latin frui to enjoy

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Statistics for frugal

Last Updated

27 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for frugal

The first known use of frugal was in 1590

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More Definitions for frugal


How to pronounce frugal (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of frugal

: careful about spending money or using things when you do not need to : using money or supplies in a very careful way
: simple and plain


fru·​gal | \ ˈfrü-gəl How to pronounce frugal (audio) \

Kids Definition of frugal

1 : careful in spending or using supplies
2 : simple and without unnecessary things a frugal meal

Other Words from frugal

frugally adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on frugal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for frugal

Spanish Central: Translation of frugal

Nglish: Translation of frugal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of frugal for Arabic Speakers

Comments on frugal

What made you want to look up frugal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not being in agreement or harmony

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