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

Synonyms & Antonyms for spendthrift

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 But the Federal Reserve’s accommodation of his spendthrift policies is now creating inflation taxes that are hitting ordinary Americans in their pocketbooks. William F. Ford And Daniel J. Smith, WSJ, 29 Mar. 2022 The 1999 book Final Cut — an account of the making of the $44 million Heaven’s Gate by United Artists executive Steven Bach — also cemented Cimino’s reputation as an irresponsible spendthrift. Gregg Kilday, The Hollywood Reporter, 29 Mar. 2022 Many in Wall Street also are pointing out that rising house prices could make today’s higher inflation less temporary than assumed, by making households more spendthrift and pushing up shelter costs. Jon Sindreu, WSJ, 19 June 2021 This man only wanted to buy a home for his irresponsible son and his spendthrift wife. Amy Dickinson, oregonlive, 28 Feb. 2022 This man only wanted to buy a home for his irresponsible son and his spendthrift wife. Amy Dickinson, chicagotribune.com, 28 Feb. 2022 This profile in cowardice comes from two Democrats whose party is facing a possible midterm wipeout thanks to high inflation that has been made worse by its spendthrift policies. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, 9 Feb. 2022 This unfortunate young woman, the daughter of a spendthrift, arrives in New York with new friend Peggy (Denée Benton), whose ambition, and whose identity as a Black woman, further agitates the world of the van Rhijn-Brooks. Daniel D'addario, Variety, 20 Jan. 2022 It’s the color of the Virgin Mary’s robe, used in the Impressionists’ sumptuous seas and skies, favored by a depressed Picasso and a spendthrift Vermeer. Washington Post, 23 Dec. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of spendthrift


1584, in the meaning defined above


1607, in the meaning defined above

Learn More About spendthrift

Time Traveler for spendthrift

Time Traveler

The first known use of spendthrift was in 1584

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About spendthrift

Dictionary Entries Near spendthrift

spend the night with (someone)


spendthrift clause

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for spendthrift

Last Updated

20 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Spendthrift.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spendthrift. Accessed 24 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for spendthrift


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

More from Merriam-Webster on spendthrift

Nglish: Translation of spendthrift for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spendthrift for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Food

  • a-light
  • Name these cookies!
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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