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 From feast to frugal One of the places where this shift is most visible is the home itself. Taylor Luck, The Christian Science Monitor, "Not a hardship, but a blessing: Back-to-basics Ramadan," 19 May 2020 Whether by necessity or choice, lots of us are adopting acts of frugal self-reliance like baking our own bread, teaching our own children — and fixing our own busted iPhone screens. Shira Ovide, New York Times, "The Joys of Fixing Your Own Stuff," 14 May 2020 Despite a political career that has permitted him to whisper into the ears of presidents, the legendarily frugal Podesta had commuted to New York on Vamoose, a discount bus line. Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, "The 2016 Election Was Just a Dry Run," 11 May 2020 For example, our section has had more coverage of frugal home cooking, more discussion of the business side of restaurants and more conversations with wage workers, not just chefs and owners. Soleil Ho,, "Let’s hope canned tuna recipes are more than just a coronavirus fad," 4 May 2020 Further Reading The ultimate Half-Life VR hardware guide, from frugal to fantastic If that percentage tally sounds ridiculously low, remember that the last public announcement of all Steam users came in January 2019, at a count of 90 million. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "The Half-Life effect on PC-VR is the biggest Steam has ever seen," 4 May 2020 My savings strategy is just being a really frugal workaholic Capricorn. Brennan Kilbane, Allure, "How My Clients Gave Me Hope, Even as the Pandemic Upended the Tattoo Industry," 28 Apr. 2020 Even the icing recipe omitted butter and milk to keep things frugal. Katlyn Moncada, Better Homes & Gardens, "These Rich and Chocolaty Depression-Era Cakes Don't Require Eggs or Butter," 24 Apr. 2020 The glamorization of Bohemian poverty is an ongoing issue for Saltz, who has turned his lack of wealth into a refrain and trumpets his frugal habit of buying giant bodega coffees to chill overnight, instead of paying a premium for iced coffee. Kyle Chayka, The New Republic, "When Art Becomes Self-Help," 24 Apr. 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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Time Traveler for frugal

Time Traveler

The first known use of frugal was in 1590

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Last Updated

25 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Frugal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 May. 2020.

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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

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