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  1. reluctant to give or spend; stingy; miserly.
  2. meanly or ungenerously small or scanty: a niggardly tip to a waiter.
  1. in the manner of a niggard.

Origin of niggardly

First recorded in 1520–30; niggard + -ly
Related formsnig·gard·li·ness, noun


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1. penurious, miserly, mean, tight, avaricious, mercenary, illiberal, close. 2. poor.


1. generous.

Usage note

See niggard.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for niggardly


  1. stingy or ungenerous
  2. meagrea niggardly salary
  1. stingily; grudgingly
Derived Formsniggardliness, noun
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 niggardly


1560s, from niggard + -ly (1).

It was while giving a speech in Washington, to a very international audience, about the British theft of the Elgin marbles from the Parthenon. I described the attitude of the current British authorities as "niggardly." Nobody said anything, but I privately resolved -- having felt the word hanging in the air a bit -- to say "parsimonious" from then on. [Christopher Hitchens, "The Pernicious Effects of Banning Words," Slate.com, Dec. 4, 2006]

As an adverb from 1520s. Related: Niggardliness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper