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

Definition of frugal

: characterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resources

Other Words from frugal

frugally \ ˈfrü-​gə-​lē How to pronounce frugal (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 or 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 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
Recent Examples on the Web That potential reduction, which was stipulated by the legislature, is of great concern to labor advocates who argue the program already is far too frugal. Keith M. Phaneuf, Hartford Courant, 6 Aug. 2022 The Dacia proved reliable, frugal, and comfy to drive and sleep in. Jonathon Ramsey, Car and Driver, 8 July 2022 Professor Vijay Pereira argues that some cultures have naturally followed frugal innovation due to limited resources and lack of finance. Benjamin Laker, Forbes, 5 May 2022 With high inflation costing many Americans more, a small but enthusiastic group of already-super-frugal people are taking their saving strategies further. Clare Ansberry, WSJ, 17 June 2022 Advice for overly frugal people who don't know how to spend money, sometimes at their own expense, is harder to find. Fortune, 29 May 2022 Money is taken from frugal people and given to spendthrifts. William Baldwin, Forbes, 9 Dec. 2021 Barnett spent her life being frugal and careful with her finances, running a small graphic design business, saving for retirement and paying premiums for long-term health care insurance. Diane Bellcolumnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 June 2022 Jeff Beaudry of Laurel may be a bit frugal himself — or at least someone who hates to see a perfectly good item tossed out. John Kelly, Washington Post, 29 June 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of frugal

1542, 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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Dictionary Entries Near frugal

fructus naturales



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Last Updated

10 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Frugal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for frugal


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

More from Merriam-Webster on frugal

Nglish: Translation of frugal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of frugal for Arabic Speakers


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