nig·​gard·​ly ˈni-gərd-lē How to pronounce niggardly (audio)
see usage paragraph below : grudgingly mean about spending or granting : begrudging
… management was being niggardly with raises.Dana Canedy
see usage paragraph below : provided in meanly limited supply
niggardly funding of planetary science.Richard Wolkomir
niggardliness noun
niggardly adverb
Usage of Niggard and Niggardly

The words niggard and niggardly are etymologically unrelated to the highly offensive and inflammatory racial slur euphemistically referred to as the N-word, despite the words' visual and auditory resemblance to it. Because of that resemblance, however, both niggard and niggardly are often taken to be offensive.

Choose the Right Synonym for niggardly

stingy, close, niggardly, parsimonious, penurious, miserly mean being unwilling or showing unwillingness to share with others.

stingy implies a marked lack of generosity.

a stingy child, not given to sharing

close suggests keeping a tight grip on one's money and possessions.

folks who are very close when charity calls

niggardly implies giving or spending the very smallest amount possible.

the niggardly amount budgeted for the town library

parsimonious suggests a frugality so extreme as to lead to stinginess.

a parsimonious lifestyle notably lacking in luxuries

penurious implies niggardliness that gives an appearance of actual poverty.

the penurious eccentric bequeathed a fortune

miserly suggests a sordid avariciousness and a morbid pleasure in hoarding.

a miserly couple devoid of social conscience

Examples of niggardly in a Sentence

niggardly portions of meat for dinner
Recent Examples on the Web Many Chileans are angry about the country’s unequal distribution of wealth and power, about niggardly pensions (for which people are supposed to save themselves) and about long waiting times for doctors’ visits and poor schools. The Economist, 25 Dec. 2019 To tap one of the country’s two largest and most niggardly mines is hard enough. The Economist, 3 Feb. 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'niggardly.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1563, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of niggardly was in 1563

Dictionary Entries Near niggardly

Cite this Entry

“Niggardly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


nig·​gard·​ly ˈnig-ərd-lē How to pronounce niggardly (audio)
: characteristic of a niggard : scanty
niggardly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on niggardly

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!