adjective fru·gal \ ˈfrü-gəl \
|Updated on: 21 Jul 2018

Definition of frugal

: characterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resources


play \frü-ˈga-lə-tē\ noun


play \ˈfrü-gə-lē\ adverb

frugal was our Word of the Day on 06/05/2015. Hear the podcast!

Examples of frugal in a Sentence

  1. His meals are the frugal fare of the poor: tea, bread, yogurt, a bit of cheese, vegetables. —Johanna McGearyTime25 Oct. 2004
  2. Like frugal cooks everywhere, Cajun cooks from generations past found plenty of ways to use every part of the animals they raised. —Jeremy SauerCook's CountryJune 1995
  3. 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. KaplanAn Empire Wilderness1988
  4. a frugal meal of bread and cheese

  5. by being frugal, the family is able to stretch its monthly budget

Recent Examples of frugal from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of frugal

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

Synonym Discussion of 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 Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of frugal for English Language Learners

  • : 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

FRUGAL Defined for Kids


adjective fru·gal \ ˈfrü-gəl \

Definition of frugal for Students

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



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to hasten

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