prodigal

adjective
prod·​i·​gal | \ ˈprä-di-gəl How to pronounce prodigal (audio) \

Definition of prodigal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : characterized by profuse or wasteful expenditure : lavish a prodigal feast prodigal outlays for her clothes
2 : recklessly spendthrift the prodigal prince
3 : yielding abundantly : luxuriant often used with ofnature has been so prodigal of her bounty— H. T. Buckle

prodigal

noun

Definition of prodigal (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : one who spends or gives lavishly and foolishly
2 : one who has returned after an absence

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Other Words from prodigal

Adjective

prodigality \ ˌprä-​də-​ˈga-​lə-​tē How to pronounce prodigality (audio) \ noun
prodigally \ ˈprä-​di-​g(ə-​)lē How to pronounce prodigally (audio) \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for prodigal

Adjective

profuse, lavish, prodigal, luxuriant, lush, exuberant mean giving or given out in great abundance. profuse implies pouring forth without restraint. profuse apologies lavish suggests an unstinted or unmeasured profusion. a lavish party prodigal implies reckless or wasteful lavishness threatening to lead to early exhaustion of resources. prodigal spending luxuriant suggests a rich and splendid abundance. a luxuriant beard lush suggests rich, soft luxuriance. a lush green lawn exuberant implies marked vitality or vigor in what produces abundantly. an exuberant imagination

Examples of prodigal in a Sentence

Adjective We sipped our beers and wondered at one another, at what was left of all that and of those prodigal days. — Michael Chabon, A Model World and Other Stories, 1991 Mr. Bulstrode replied without haste, but also without hesitation. "I am grieved, though, I confess, not surprised by this information, Mr. Lydgate. For my own part, I regretted your alliance with my brother-in-law's family, which has always been of prodigal habits, and which has already been much indebted to me for sustainment in its present position … " — George Eliot, Middlemarch, 1872 The prodigal use of antibiotics in animals has the same consequence as their overprescription for human beings. — Cullen Murphy, New York Times Book Review, 10 June l984 the prodigal child always spent her allowance the minute she got it Noun Such a trustee had been first instituted by the praetor, to save a family from the blind havoc of a prodigal or madman … — Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 1788 the million-dollar lottery winner was such a prodigal that his windfall was exhausted after only a few years
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Grace and Mother’s Milk visit Dr. Jonah Vogelbaum (John Doman), who now uses a wheelchair thanks to his surrogate prodigal son Homelander. Nick Schager, EW.com, "The Boys recap: Dads say the darndest things," 2 Oct. 2020 Loyal readers already know plenty about the complicated character who headlines her fourth Gilead book: a shifty, tormented, yet beloved prodigal son who abandoned his hometown and family for 20 years. Rebekah Denn, The Christian Science Monitor, "‘Jack’ proves Marilynne Robinson’s gift for delineating character," 1 Oct. 2020 Boughton has eight children, but Jack is his prodigal son, and the two pastors have spent much of their friendship puzzling over him. Casey Cep, The New Yorker, "Marilynne Robinson’s Essential American Stories," 25 Sep. 2020 Jack Boughton, a prodigal son of an Iowan pastor, is headed for rock bottom: boozing, stealing and engaging in some old-fashioned draft-dodging. Cody Delistraty, WSJ, "The 11 Best Books of Fall," 23 Sep. 2020 But Jack focuses on, as its title would suggest, the character who has eluded, bedeviled, and grieved all the people who have ever loved him: the prodigal son. Jordan Kisner, The Atlantic, "Marilynne Robinson’s Lonely Souls," 11 Sep. 2020 Leti's initially more fun, a prodigal semi-bohemian with a cross-country lifestyle. Darren Franich, EW.com, "Clichés terrorize the bold provocations of Lovecraft Country: Review," 13 Aug. 2020 That prompted headlines about the return of the prodigal son. Victor Mather, New York Times, "Zlatan Ibrahimovic Returns to Milan; Fans Return to Taiwan Baseball," 11 May 2020 Even if the pandemic were to revive the religious impulse, would-be prodigal sons won’t be able to attend services. Matthew Continetti, National Review, "Coronavirus Tests America’s Social Capacity," 21 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun As a youth, Mr. Graham, now 65, was the prodigal of the Graham family, a college dropout fond of alcohol. Elizabeth Dias, New York Times, "The Evangelical Fight to Win Back California," 27 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prodigal.' 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 prodigal

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1561, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for prodigal

Adjective and Noun

Latin prodigus, from prodigere to drive away, squander, from pro-, prod- forth + agere to drive — more at pro-, agent

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Time Traveler for prodigal

Time Traveler

The first known use of prodigal was in the 15th century

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Statistics for prodigal

Last Updated

16 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Prodigal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prodigal. Accessed 22 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for prodigal

prodigal

adjective
How to pronounce prodigal (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of prodigal

formal : carelessly and foolishly spending money, time, etc.

prodigal

adjective
prod·​i·​gal | \ ˈprä-di-gəl How to pronounce prodigal (audio) \

Kids Definition of prodigal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: carelessly wasteful a prodigal spender

prodigal

noun

Kids Definition of prodigal (Entry 2 of 2)

: somebody who wastes money carelessly

More from Merriam-Webster on prodigal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for prodigal

Nglish: Translation of prodigal for Spanish Speakers

Comments on prodigal

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