• synonyms


[prod-i-guh l]
See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
  1. wastefully or recklessly extravagant: prodigal expenditure.
  2. giving or yielding profusely; lavish (usually followed by of or with): prodigal of smiles; prodigal with money.
  3. lavishly abundant; profuse: nature's prodigal resources.
Show More
  1. a person who spends, or has spent, his or her money or substance with wasteful extravagance; spendthrift.
Show More

Origin of prodigal

First recorded in 1500–10; back formation from prodigality
Related formsprod·i·gal·ly, adverb


See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
1. profligate. 2, 3. copious, bounteous. 4. waster, wastrel.

Synonym study

1. See lavish.


1. cautious, provident.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for prodigally

Historical Examples

  • And so to-night I am going to spend them, not prudently on bread, but prodigally on beer.

    Ballads of a Bohemian

    Robert W. Service

  • Indeed, they were sumptuously, lavishly, prodigally provided for.

    Sir Henry Morgan, Buccaneer

    Cyrus Townsend Brady

  • He had made his money in mines, rails, ships; and now he was spending it prodigally.

    The Pagan Madonna

    Harold MacGrath

  • None of art's works, but prodigally strownBy nature, with her negligence divine.

  • Here are bred the men whose blood—when the bagpipe blows—is prodigally poured forth on a thousand shores.

British Dictionary definitions for prodigally


  1. recklessly wasteful or extravagant, as in disposing of goods or money
  2. lavish in giving or yieldingprodigal of compliments
Show More
  1. a person who spends lavishly or squanders money
Show More
Derived Formsprodigality, nounprodigally, adverb

Word Origin

C16: from Medieval Latin prōdigālis wasteful, from Latin prōdigus lavish, from prōdigere to squander, from pro- 1 + agere to drive
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 prodigally



mid-15c., a back-formation from prodigality, or else from Middle French prodigal and directly from Late Latin prodigalis, from Latin prodigus "wasteful," from prodigere "drive away, waste," from pro- "forth" (see pro-) + agere "to drive" (see act (v.)). First reference is to prodigial son, from Vulgate Latin filius prodigus (Luke xv:11-32). As a noun, "prodigal person," 1590s, from the adjective (the Latin adjective also was used as a noun).

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper