spend·​thrift | \ ˈspen(d)-ˌthrift How to pronounce spendthrift (audio) \
plural spendthrifts

Definition of spendthrift

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person who spends improvidently or wastefully



Definition of spendthrift (Entry 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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for spendthrift

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Noun

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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: Noun In the end, like a spendthrift child whose credit card bill is covered by Dad, the private pension problem was solved in the bailout. Michael Taylor, San Antonio Express-News, "Taylor: The quiet union pension bailout," 31 Mar. 2021 Opposition to Mr Obama’s supposedly spendthrift measure spurred the Tea Party movement, which would eventually morph from deficit hawkery to proto-populism and eventually full-blown Trumpism. The Economist, "Republicans test the precise meaning of Joe Biden’s talk of unity," 6 Feb. 2021 An earlier version of this article incorrectly described them as spendthrift. Rochelle Toplensky, WSJ, "Europe Will Need a Loan Crisis to Create a Post-Covid Bad Bank," 16 Dec. 2020 As countries prepared to enter a monetary union without a central fiscal authority, rules were needed to bind the hands of the spendthrift. The Economist, "The fiscal question What next for the EU’s fiscal rules?," 31 Oct. 2020 The siblings fired back, characterizing her as a spendthrift who once charged two Hermes Birkin handbags to her hotel room in Las Vegas and pressured him into a hasty wedding. Jean Marbella, baltimoresun.com, "Paterakis family feud resurrected by appeals court," 21 Aug. 2020 The flood of money is even making Tom Steyer, the liberal hedge fund manager running on a platform of combatting climate change, look like a spendthrift. Tim Fernholz, Quartz, "Bloomberg is running the billionaire vote-buying campaign we expected from Trump," 14 Feb. 2020 The Club for Growth has put $3 million into TV and digital ads targeting Collins most recently as a fiscal spendthrift. TheWeek, "Republican officials are playing hardball against GOP Rep. Doug Collins in Georgia Senate race," 12 Feb. 2020 Caracalla was a spendthrift and unstable ruler, and extending citizenship to the huge populations that inhabited his mighty realm was a quick way to increase his tax base. National Geographic, "In ancient Rome, citizenship was the path to power," 4 Nov. 2019

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


1584, in the meaning defined above


1607, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for spendthrift

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The first known use of spendthrift was in 1584

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Statistics for spendthrift

Last Updated

8 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Spendthrift.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spendthrift. Accessed 10 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for spendthrift



English Language Learners Definition of spendthrift

: a person who spends money in a careless or wasteful way


spend·​thrift | \ ˈspend-ˌthrift How to pronounce spendthrift (audio) \

Kids Definition of spendthrift

: a person who uses up money wastefully


spend·​thrift | \ ˈspend-ˌthrift How to pronounce spendthrift (audio) \

Legal Definition of spendthrift

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person who spends money foolishly, profusely, or wastefully



Legal Definition of spendthrift (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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Comments on spendthrift

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