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90s Slang You Should Know

prodigal son

a figure in a parable of Jesus (Luke 15:11–32); a wayward son who squanders his inheritance but returns home to find that his father forgives him.
Origin of prodigal son
First recorded in 1545-55 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for prodigal son
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "I have come in search of a prodigal son, Monsieur," smiling.

    The Grey Cloak Harold MacGrath
  • A fine example was the prodigal son—when he started back home.

    The Four Million

    O. Henry
  • The old creature then goes on to quote Scripture to me, and talks about the prodigal son.

  • You are the prodigal son if you like, but you are on the road back to the Father.

    How It All Came Round L. T. Meade
  • I must now rejoice with you over the recovery and safety of your prodigal son, the Decameron.

    Imaginary Conversations and Poems Walter Savage Landor
  • I have often wondered what would have happened if the prodigal son had been a daughter.

    A Circuit Rider's Wife Corra Harris
  • When the prodigal son was away carousing, were not love and forgiveness still on the watch for him?

    The Virginians William Makepeace Thackeray
Contemporary definitions for prodigal son

in the Bible, a character who recklessly wasted his inheritance but returned home repentent and is joyfully received by his family; also called prodigal child's 21st Century Lexicon
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prodigal son in Culture

Prodigal Son definition

A character in a parable Jesus told to illustrate how generous God is in forgiving sinners who repent. The Prodigal Son was a young man who asked his father for his inheritance and then left home for “a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.” As his money ran out, a famine occurred, and he went to work tending pigs, but even then he could not get enough to eat. He returned home, knowing that he had given up his right to be treated as his father's son, but hoping that his father would accept him as a hired servant on the farm. Seeing the Prodigal Son coming from a distance, the father rejoiced and ordered the fatted calf to be slaughtered for a feast to celebrate the son's return.

The Prodigal Son's elder brother returned from the fields while the feast was going on and was angry. He complained that he had never been treated to such a feast, though he had remained and worked diligently for his father while the Prodigal Son was away. The father reassured him, saying that the elder son would still get his inheritance, but it was right to celebrate the return of the Prodigal Son: “For this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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