wast·​rel ˈwā-strəl How to pronounce wastrel (audio)
 also  ˈwä-
: one who expends resources foolishly and self-indulgently : profligate

Example Sentences

the black sheep of the family, he ended up being a wastrel and a drunkard
Recent Examples on the Web The always-entertaining Bruce Turk steals all his scenes as Ranevskaya’s spoiled and wastrel brother, Leonid Gayev. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, 13 Mar. 2023 Selby is a wastrel with a criminal past, yet his mother keeps providing him with soft places to fall. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 3 Mar. 2023 Even in 1997, everyone looks pretty good for a bunch of wastrel rockers, whose intersecting trajectories are spun through the early chapters. John Anderson, WSJ, 2 Mar. 2023 There's also a stern widower father (Adrian Dunbar), a tender-hearted wastrel brother (Dunkirk's Fionn Whitehead), and the aforementioned hot priest (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), who lights a fire in both Emily's mind and her loins. Leah Greenblatt, EW.com, 17 Feb. 2023 But those damn wastrel Republicans keep putting their hands in the till. Teresa M. Hanafin, BostonGlobe.com, 5 Nov. 2022 Lee plays Gi-hun, a penniless wastrel who gambles too much, steals from his family, gets beaten up by loan sharks and accepts a mysterious invitation to become contender #456 in the deadly competition. Patrick Frater, Variety, 11 Oct. 2021 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 See More

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.

Word History


irregular from waste entry 2

First Known Use

circa 1841, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of wastrel was circa 1841

Dictionary Entries Near wastrel

Cite this Entry

“Wastrel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wastrel. Accessed 24 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


wast·​rel ˈwā-strəl How to pronounce wastrel (audio)
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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