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 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 Protesters see the council as a group of irresponsible spendthrifts who have pushed the city to the brink of insolvency. Gilbert Garcia, ExpressNews.com, "Floresville City Council rocks the vote — in the worst way," 2 Nov. 2019 But Europe is no spendthrift either, with broadcasters and online players in Europe's big five markets (U.K., France, Germany, Italy and Spain) shelling out €10 billion ($11 billion) for sports rights in 2018, double the amount from six years ago. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, "Sports Rights Now Make Up 26 Percent of Global Content Spend," 16 Oct. 2019 These include two other Latin American governments, with spendthrift Venezuela far outstripping the field (see chart). The Economist, "Daily chart Governments subsidise fossil fuels to the tune of $427bn a year," 14 Oct. 2019 The backdrop was the global financial crisis, which had sent the U.S. economy plummeting into recession, adding to the allure of a spendthrift Asian billionaire like Mr. Low. Bradley Hope, WSJ, "The Billion-Dollar Mystery Man and the Wildest Party Vegas Ever Saw," 15 Sep. 2018 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

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of spendthrift was in 1584

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Statistics for spendthrift

Last Updated

21 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Spendthrift.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spendthrift. Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for spendthrift


How to pronounce spendthrift (audio)

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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