fru·​gal | \ˈfrü-gəl \

Definition of frugal 

: characterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resources

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Other Words from frugal

frugality \ frü-​ˈga-​lə-​tē \ noun
frugally \ ˈfrü-​gə-​lē \ 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

But Virginia, which has one of the nation’s most frugal Medicaid programs, refused. Laura Vozzella, Washington Post, "Va. Senate’s GOP leader tries obscure tactic on eve of Medicaid vote," 29 May 2018 Initially the program was credited for encouraging a frugal shift to generic drugs, but in recent years spending has accelerated., "Feds: Skimping can’t save seniors from rising med cost," 4 June 2018 Waiting for the price to come down before switching to a new technology sounds like a frugal decision. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Waiting for cheaper renewables can cost more in the long run," 22 May 2018 In Mexico, the election on Sunday of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a frugal leftist firebrand, bucked a rightward political shift in Latin America that has taken root over the past four years. New York Times, "Mexico Delivers Another Defeat to the Status Quo in Latin America," 2 July 2018 That was the first in a series of lessons Huang, whose company sells bulk items that range from paper plates to sparkling water online (it's been called the digital version of Costco) would teach on the importance of being a frugal leader. Paul C. Brunson, USA TODAY, "Boxed CEO Chieh Huang and the genius of frugal leadership," 13 June 2018 In this novel, like his last one, Gessen writes with special feeling about the flyspecked romance of being young, idealistic, frugal and needing to scrounge for a decent meal. New York Times, "Struggling to Love, Work and Do the Right Thing in Putin’s Russia," 9 July 2018 Warren County officials have long boasted about being frugal with taxpayer money, and the county made national news earlier this decade for its lack of debt. Keith Bierygolick,, "Addicted, abused and unable to count: a federal lawsuit about damaged kids in Warren County," 12 July 2018 Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images While the ’84 Summer Games are often held up as a model for frugal management, LA’s first time hosting, in 1932, offers a similarly compelling story. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Will LA’s ‘no-build’ Olympics spur Southern California’s next building boom?," 10 July 2018

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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Last Updated

27 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for frugal

The first known use of frugal was in 1590

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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 \

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

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