[froo-guh l]
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  1. economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful: What your office needs is a frugal manager who can save you money without resorting to painful cutbacks.
  2. entailing little expense; requiring few resources; meager; scanty: a frugal meal.

Origin of frugal

1590–1600; < Latin frūgālis economical, equivalent to frūg- (stem of frūx produce, fruit) + -ālis -al1
Related formsfru·gal·i·ty, fru·gal·ness, nounfru·gal·ly, adverbnon·fru·gal, adjectivenon·fru·gal·ly, adverbnon·fru·gal·ness, nouno·ver·fru·gal, adjectiveo·ver·fru·gal·ly, adverbun·fru·gal, adjectiveun·fru·gal·ly, adverbun·fru·gal·ness, noun

Synonym study

Economical, thrifty, frugal imply careful and saving use of resources. Economical implies prudent planning in the disposition of resources so as to avoid unnecessary waste or expense: economical in budgeting household expenditures. Thrifty is a stronger word than economical, and adds to it the idea of industry and successful management: a thrifty shopper looking for bargains. Frugal emphasizes being saving, sometimes excessively saving, especially in such matters as food or dress: frugal almost to the point of being stingy. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for frugal


  1. practising economy; living without waste; thrifty
  2. not costly; meagre
Derived Formsfrugality or frugalness, nounfrugally, adverb

Word Origin for frugal

C16: from Latin frūgālis, from frūgī useful, temperate, from frux fruit
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 frugal

1590s, from Middle French frugal, from Latin frugalis, from undeclined adj. frugi "useful, proper, worthy, honest; temperate, economical," originally dative of frux (plural fruges) "fruit, produce," figuratively "value, result, success," related to fructus (see fruit). Sense evolved in Latin from "useful" to "profitable" to "economical." Related: Frugally.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper