[ nig-erd ]
/ ˈnɪg ərd /


an excessively parsimonious, miserly, or stingy person.


niggardly; miserly; stingy.

Nearby words

  1. niger-kordofanian,
  2. nigeria,
  3. nigerian,
  4. nigerien,
  5. nigga,
  6. niggardly,
  7. nigger,
  8. nigger heaven,
  9. nigger of the narcissus, the,
  10. niggerhead

Origin of niggard

1325–75; Middle English nyggard, equivalent to nig niggard (< Scandinavian; compare dialectal Swedish nygg; akin to Old English hnēaw stingy) + -ard

Related formsun·nig·gard, adjectiveun·nig·gard·ly, adverb

Usage note

The words niggard and niggardly are sometimes misinterpreted as racial slurs because they sound like the highly offensive word nigger. However, niggard dates back to Middle English. The first element nygg-, nig- was borrowed from a Scandinavian source, and -ard is a pejorative suffix. The English word niggardly is a modern English formation from niggard. Therefore these two words are not etymologically related to nigger. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for niggard

British Dictionary definitions for niggard


/ (ˈnɪɡəd) /


a stingy person


archaic miserly

Word Origin for niggard

C14: perhaps of Scandinavian origin; related to Swedish dialect nygg and Old English hnēaw stingy

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 niggard



"mean person, miser," late 14c., nygart, of uncertain origin. The suffix suggests French origin (cf. -ard), but the root word is possibly from earlier nig "stingy" (c.1300), perhaps from a Scandinavian source related to Old Norse hnøggr "stingy," from Proto-Germanic *khnauwjaz (cf. Swedish njugg "close, careful," German genau "precise, exact"), and to Old English hneaw "stingy, niggardly," which did not survive in Middle English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper