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  1. a person who lives in wretched circumstances in order to save and hoard money.
  2. a stingy, avaricious person.
  3. Obsolete. a wretched or unhappy person.

Origin of miser

1535–45; < Latin: wretched


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2. skinflint, tightwad, pinchpenny.

Miser, The

noun (French L'Avare),
  1. a comedy (1668) by Molière.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for miser

Historical Examples

  • He repulsed the advances of neighbors, and became what Robert called him—a miser.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Robert was right in calling him a miser, but he had not always deserved the name.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • But you know the old man has become a miser, and makes money his idol.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • She declared she was thrifty, but neither a miser, nor a kidnaper, nor a witch.

    Welsh Fairy Tales

    William Elliott Griffis

  • I have a regard for old Matthew, though he is something of a miser, I fear.

British Dictionary definitions for miser


  1. a person who hoards money or possessions, often living miserably
  2. selfish person

Word Origin

C16: from Latin: wretched


  1. civil engineering a large hand-operated auger used for loose soils

Word Origin

C19: origin unknown
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for miser


1540s, "miserable person, wretch," from Latin miser (adj.) "unhappy, wretched, pitiable, in distress," of unknown origin. Original sense now obsolete; main modern meaning of "money-hoarding person" recorded 1560s, from presumed unhappiness of such people.

Besides general wretchedness, the Latin word connoted also "intense erotic love" (cf. slang got it bad "deeply infatuated") and hence was a favorite word of Catullus. In Greek a miser was kyminopristes, literally "a cumin seed splitter." In Modern Greek, he might be called hekentabelones, literally "one who has sixty needles." The German word, filz, literally "felt," preserves the image of the felt slippers which the miser often wore in caricatures. Lettish mantrausis "miser" is literally "money-raker."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper