[ mahy-zer ]
/ ˈmaɪ zər /


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

Nearby words

  1. miseducate,
  2. miseducation,
  3. misemploy,
  4. miseno,
  5. misenus,
  6. miser, the,
  7. miserabilism,
  8. miserabilist,
  9. miserable,
  10. miserably

Origin of miser

1535–45; < Latin: wretched

Miser, The

noun (French L'Avare),

a comedy (1668) by Molière.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for miser

British Dictionary definitions for miser


/ (ˈmaɪzə) /


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

Word Origin for miser

C16: from Latin: wretched


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

Word Origin for miser

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