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Origin of prodigal
SYNONYMS FOR prodigal
synonym study for prodigal
OTHER WORDS FROM prodigalprod·i·gal·ly, adverb
Words nearby prodigal
What does prodigal mean?
Where does prodigal come from?
The adjective prodigal is evidenced in English in the 1400s, ultimately from the Latin prōdigus, “extravagant, lavish.” Then as now, prodigal characterizes someone who is reckless with money. Starting in the 16th century, prodigal has been used as a noun for a spendthrift.
Prodigal has been especially used in reference to the Parable of Prodigal Son in the Bible (Luke 15:11-32). The story relates the tale of a disobedient son who leaves home and squanders his inheritance—only to return humbled, penitent, and celebrated by his father. Among Christians, the parable illustrates divine love and spiritual redemption. Prodigal child has been used in reference to the story since 1508, prodigal son since 1555. Prodigal daughter is evidenced by the late 1700s.
Thanks to the parable, prodigal itself has come to describe someone or something “wayward,” (e.g., the prodigal sheep wandered from the rest of the flock for greener pastures). It has also come to describe a “repentant return” more generally. For instance, when basketball player LeBron James returned to play for his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014 after leaving for the Miami Heat, the press often referred to him as a prodigal son.
How is prodigal used in real life?
Prodigal is very often encountered in the phrase prodigal son/daughter/child in both formal and informal contexts for someone who reformed their reckless ways. Among Christians, prodigal is also frequently used in direct discussion of the parable.
Prodigal has appeared in the titles of many cultural products, from Christian songs (Laura Story’s 2011 “Prodigal Song”) to popular novels (Danielle Steel’s 2015 Prodigal Son) to action films (2014’s Wayward: The Prodigal Son).
More examples of prodigal:
“Celebrating. The prodigal files returned.”
—@jploh, December, 2007
“#OneDirectionReunion is just like return of the prodigal son 😂 … “
—@Meheux_ferguson, April, 2018
This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.
Example sentences from the Web for prodigal
No one knows, but on the 4th of July he began bellowing that the Prodigal Son would, in fact, return.LeBron James Returns to Cleveland: How 'The Decision 2.0' Happened|Robert Silverman|July 11, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Her "prodigal son" brother, Mehran (Reza Sixo Safari), a former classical musician, returns home from a stint in drug rehab.
Turns out, Nash's "prodigal roommate" Charles isn't real, but rather a personification of Nash's loss of youthful exuberance.
In going to the Cleveland Cavaliers, he was the prodigal son playing in his homeland.
The Lacunaby Barbara Kingsolver Her first novel since Prodigal Summer.
Could the prodigal have found his place in the arms of the One revealed on Mount Sinai?Notes on the book of Exodus|C. H. (Charles Henry) Mackintosh
A man, he judged, of spendthrift generosity, a prodigal of himself.Love and Lucy|Maurice Henry Hewlett
His plan, and the execution of it, are at once clear and concise; but he is too prodigal of the term "rare."Bibliomania; or Book-Madness|Thomas Frognall Dibdin
Now when poverty pinched the prodigal son, as it did Mr. Green in New York, what was the language of that truly penitent.Secret Band of Brothers|Jonathan Harrington Green
The face of the magnificent creature at the Prodigal's left hand is a wondrous piece of drawing.