spend·​thrift | \ˈspen(d)-ˌthrift \

Definition of spendthrift 

: a person who spends improvidently or wastefully

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Other Words from spendthrift

spendthrift adjective

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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

the spendthrift managed to blow all of his inheritance in a single year

Recent Examples on the Web

Cheapskates and low spenders aren’t the ideal credit card customers for banks because they’re typically not as profitable as fast-swiping spendthrifts who rack up finance charges. Gregory Karp, The Seattle Times, "A cheapskate’s guide to shopping for credit cards," 16 Oct. 2018 But Bitcoin can count at least one group of spendthrifts among its users: Russian hackers accused of hacking in the 2016 election. Gregory Barber, WIRED, "Someone Found a Use for Bitcoin. Russian Hackers!," 13 July 2018 In Sri Lanka, the opposition united to beat a spendthrift, vicious autocrat. The Economist, "After decades of triumph, democracy is losing ground," 14 June 2018 At the start of summer in New York, the spendthrift Europhile, unable to afford a transatlantic voyage, can reach, on foot, several airy patios with echoes of Provence. Neima Jahromi, The New Yorker, "Seeking a Continental Illusion at Vol de Nuit," 8 June 2018 His powerful ministry, which drove German policy during the euro crisis, has suspicion of spendthrift foreigners coursing through its corridors. The Economist, "CharlemagneWhy Germany’s new government is not about to go soft on the euro," 8 Mar. 2018 The surprise abdication and quiet succession earlier this year were undoubtedly an attempt to refresh the country’s image of a spendthrift and corrupt monarchy in peril. Leah Mclaren, Newsweek, "Spain's Queen Letizia: Divorcee, War Reporter, TV Journalist... Republican?," 17 Sep. 2014 Democrats are compassionate and generous, but spendthrift, dovish, and (in the views of many white people) indulgent of crime and prone to subsidize poor people who don’t want to work. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "America Hates the Republicans, and They Don’t Know Why," 17 Dec. 2017 He was deposed after months of political unrest directed at his administration, which was accused of being spendthrift and out of touch. Katie Rogers, New York Times, "She Met Her Prince (for Real!) at a D.C. Nightclub," 13 Oct. 2017

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

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Statistics for spendthrift

Last Updated

14 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for spendthrift

The first known use of spendthrift was in 1584

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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 \

Kids Definition of spendthrift

: a person who uses up money wastefully


spend·​thrift | \ˈspend-ˌthrift \

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

What made you want to look up spendthrift? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make faulty or ineffective

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