1 of 2


spend·​thrift ˈspen(d)-ˌthrift How to pronounce spendthrift (audio)
plural spendthrifts
: a person who spends improvidently or wastefully


2 of 2


: given to spending money freely or foolishly : wasteful with money
In advanced economies, austerity rules, with the wealthiest nations promising to mend their spendthrift ways.Daniel Gross
As spendthrift baby boomers retire, they will endeavor to turn their meager savings into maximum retirement income.Jonathan Clements
In newspaper op-eds, on television talk shows and at a recent hearing on Capitol Hill, critics have assailed public broadcasting as elitist, spendthrift and irrelevant in the cable era.Betsy Carpenter

Did you know?

One sense of thrift is "careful management especially of money," and spendthrift was coined in the late 16th century to refer to someone who recklessly flouts such efforts. Synonyms of spendthrift include prodigal, waster, and wastrel. Prodigal also has the suggestion of such enthusiastic waste that it would deplete even the most lavish resources, whereas both waster and wastrel imply that in addition to wastefulness, the person has such dramatic character flaws as to be a good-for-nothing and a drain upon the community.

Examples of spendthrift in a Sentence

Noun the spendthrift managed to blow all of his inheritance in a single year
Recent Examples on the Web
Note that the account owner can take steps to protect the money from the beneficiary's creditors, such as by providing that the money will pass to the beneficiary by way of a spendthrift trust. Jay Adkisson, Forbes, 21 Feb. 2024 Major storms could surface if one partner is a spendthrift and the other is a miser. Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb, Twin Cities, 3 Feb. 2024 Myth 1: Women are more likely to be spendthrifts When will the stereotype of the woman with a shoe-shopping addiction die? Michelle Singletary, Washington Post, 16 Jan. 2024 America’s spendthrift relationship with electric vehicles has lost some spark. Stephen Wilmot, WSJ, 17 Nov. 2023 The value of the peso has plummeted 858% against the US dollar over the past five years as the central bank printed more of the currency to help the country’s spendthrift government avoid defaulting on its debts. Anna Cooban, CNN, 23 Oct. 2023 The women who raised Churchill and Roosevelt were strikingly different: one a gorgeous spendthrift, the other a dignified matriarch. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, 4 Sep. 2023 Though Adam Sandler, tackling the role of caring dad, and Jackie Sandler, playing Lydia’s spendthrift mom, bring a sense of sweetness and amusement, this is really their daughters’ show. Courtney Howard, Variety, 18 Aug. 2023 Chantel Chapman, a 40-year-old entrepreneur in Richmond, British Columbia, was once a spendthrift in this way. Juli Fraga, New York Times, 5 July 2023
Those could have been used to constrain distributions to or for the benefit of the spendthrift child. Martin Shenkman, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'spendthrift.' 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


1584, in the meaning defined above


1607, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of spendthrift was in 1584


Dictionary Entries Near spendthrift

Cite this Entry

“Spendthrift.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spendthrift. Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


spend·​thrift ˈspen(d)-ˌthrift How to pronounce spendthrift (audio)
: one who spends wastefully
spendthrift adjective

Legal Definition


1 of 2 noun
spend·​thrift ˈspend-ˌthrift How to pronounce spendthrift (audio)
: a person who spends money foolishly, profusely, or wastefully


2 of 2 adjective
: of, relating to, or being a spendthrift
: of or relating to a spendthrift trust

More from Merriam-Webster on spendthrift

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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