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 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/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 More frugal buyers may be impressed by the 41 mpg the all-wheel drive Altima returned in our real-world fuel-economy testing. Nicholas Wallace, Car and Driver, "Every New Mid-Size Family Sedan Ranked for 2021," 16 Jan. 2021 Xi Zhongxun was unusually strict and frugal, forcing his two sons to wear their elder sisters’ castoff clothes and shoes, and often lecturing them about his role in the revolution. Jeremy Page, WSJ, "How the U.S. Misread China’s Xi: Hoping for a Globalist, It Got an Autocrat," 23 Dec. 2020 The Supper Summit will pit the devil-may-care Johnson against a frugal and precise former German defense minister who started as head of the European Union’s executive branch a year ago. Washington Post, "Can a Supper Summit resolve Brexit at last? U.K.'s Boris Johnson heads to Brussels.," 9 Dec. 2020 Mexicans should cancel celebrations and even avoid exchanging Christmas presents to beat the coronavirus, the president said on Friday, pitching a frugal festive season to one of the world's largest capital cities as infections scaled new heights. NBC News, "'No presents': Mexicans urged to be cautious this Christmas to stop pandemic," 5 Dec. 2020 The frugal spending Rays are known for their reliance on modern analytics, and Cash said the modern book of baseball called for a quick hook. NBC News, "Dodgers rally to beat Rays, capture first World Series title since 1988," 28 Oct. 2020 Even after her jobless benefits arrived, including the $600 federal bonus, Mahler maintained her more frugal lifestyle and fruitlessly applied for about 20 recruiting jobs a week. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "'I will be put out of my house': Some Americans who struggled early in crisis are on brink, others find jobs," 27 Oct. 2020 City council members emphasized the need to be frugal and to minimize any tax rate increase. Teri Webster, Dallas News, "Plano weighs $409 million bond referendum ‘wish list’ for aging infrastructure," 27 Oct. 2020 Powering the most fuel-frugal Camry is the same Atkinson-cycle 2.5-liter inline-four and electric motor combination as before. Maxwell B. Mortimer, Car and Driver, "2021 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid Fixes Some Minor Flaws," 20 Oct. 2020

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

30 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Frugal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for frugal



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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