[ prod-i-guhl ]
/ ˈprɒd ɪ gəl /


wastefully or recklessly extravagant: prodigal expenditure.
giving or yielding profusely; lavish (usually followed by of or with): prodigal of smiles; prodigal with money.
lavishly abundant; profuse: nature's prodigal resources.


a person who spends, or has spent, his or her money or substance with wasteful extravagance; spendthrift.

Origin of prodigal

First recorded in 1500–10; back formation from prodigality

Related forms

prod·i·gal·ly, adverb

Synonym study

1. See lavish. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for prodigal

British Dictionary definitions for prodigal


/ (ˈprɒdɪɡəl) /


recklessly wasteful or extravagant, as in disposing of goods or money
lavish in giving or yieldingprodigal of compliments


a person who spends lavishly or squanders money

Derived Forms

prodigality, nounprodigally, adverb

Word Origin for prodigal

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