wast·​rel | \ ˈwā-strəl How to pronounce wastrel (audio) also ˈwä- \

Definition of wastrel

1 : vagabond, waif
2 : one who expends resources foolishly and self-indulgently : profligate

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Examples of wastrel in a Sentence

the black sheep of the family, he ended up being a wastrel and a drunkard
Recent Examples on the Web When all is said and done, Biden may get enough spending to allow Republicans to attack him as a wastrel and not enough spending to excite his own partisans. Rich Lowry, National Review, 10 Sep. 2021 The novel doesn’t quite persuade us as to why this noble character would have any interest at all in this useless, self-defeating wastrel. Hermione Lee, The New York Review of Books, 6 Oct. 2020 Set in a town called Bedford and peopled by the kind of deliciously self-absorbed upper-class wastrels... John Anderson, WSJ, 5 May 2020 The Sitwells, Tallulah Bankhead, Diana Cooper, Adele Astaire, Evelyn Waugh, and Steven Runciman add lots of glitter, too, as well as heft. Duchesses, maharanis, designers, writers, and wastrels abound. Brian T. Allen, National Review, 14 Mar. 2020 First performed in Venice in 1709, this biting political satire revolves around the manipulative Agrippina, wife of the Roman emperor Claudio, who will do anything to ensure that her wastrel son Nerone ascends the throne. Heidi Waleson, WSJ, 7 Feb. 2020 McCoy is certain that the victims’ deaths can be traced to the door of the richest family in Glasgow—whose ice-cold patriarch and his wastrel son are rumored to host orgies laced with drugs and sadism. Tom Nolan, WSJ, 4 May 2018 Improvising about golf was easy for me.’ —Bill Murray The movie stars a stuffed-shirt WASP tyrant (Ted Knight), a playboy hedonist wastrel ( Chevy Chase ) and a nouveau riche vulgarian in Day-Glo slacks (Rodney Dangerfield). Chris Nashawaty, WSJ, 19 Apr. 2018 Her lover, Dan, has been killed by her husband, Joshua (the excellent Charlie DelMarcelle), who is now a dispirited and ironical wastrel who drinks too much after many years in prison. Toby Zinman, Philly.com, 14 Apr. 2018

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

circa 1841, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for wastrel

irregular from waste entry 2

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Time Traveler for wastrel

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The first known use of wastrel was circa 1841

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Dictionary Entries Near wastrel

wasting palsy



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Last Updated

13 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Wastrel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wastrel. Accessed 25 Sep. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of wastrel

: a person who wastes time, money, etc.


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