[ nig-erd ]
/ ˈnɪg ərd /
Sometimes Offensive.


an excessively parsimonious, miserly, or stingy person.


miserly; stingy.



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Origin of niggard

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English nyggard, nigard “a stingy person,” from earlier nig “a stingy person” (from Old Norse; compare Old Icelandic hnöggr “stingy,” dialectal Swedish njugg, nygg “parsimonious”; akin to Old English hnēaw “stingy”) + -ard

usage note for niggard

The words niggard and niggardly are often misinterpreted as racial slurs because they sound like what is probably the most offensive word in the English language. Actually, niggard dates back to Middle English. The first element nygg-, nig- was borrowed from a Scandinavian source, and -ard is a pejorative suffix. The adjective and adverb niggardly is a modern English formation from niggard. Historical linguists and others familiar with the etymology of these words know that they are not truly related to the word nigger. However, the source of a term is not as important as how it is perceived and used in contemporary language. So even if the words niggard and niggardly are not racial slurs in their etymologies, meanings, or historical uses, it may be wisest to avoid these terms. The connotation or perception of any word is determined by how it is used, received, and interpreted; niggard and niggardly may be offensive to many speakers because of this speculative, but false, etymology. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences 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