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See more synonyms for prodigal on Thesaurus.com
  1. wastefully or recklessly extravagant: prodigal expenditure.
  2. giving or yielding profusely; lavish (usually followed by of or with): prodigal of smiles; prodigal with money.
  3. lavishly abundant; profuse: nature's prodigal resources.
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  1. a person who spends, or has spent, his or her money or substance with wasteful extravagance; spendthrift.
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Origin of prodigal

First recorded in 1500–10; back formation from prodigality
Related formsprod·i·gal·ly, adverb


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Synonym study

1. See lavish.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for prodigally

Historical Examples

  • And so to-night I am going to spend them, not prudently on bread, but prodigally on beer.

    Ballads of a Bohemian

    Robert W. Service

  • Indeed, they were sumptuously, lavishly, prodigally provided for.

    Sir Henry Morgan, Buccaneer

    Cyrus Townsend Brady

  • He had made his money in mines, rails, ships; and now he was spending it prodigally.

    The Pagan Madonna

    Harold MacGrath

  • None of art's works, but prodigally strownBy nature, with her negligence divine.

  • Here are bred the men whose blood—when the bagpipe blows—is prodigally poured forth on a thousand shores.

British Dictionary definitions for prodigally


  1. recklessly wasteful or extravagant, as in disposing of goods or money
  2. lavish in giving or yieldingprodigal of compliments
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  1. a person who spends lavishly or squanders money
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Derived Formsprodigality, nounprodigally, adverb

Word Origin

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

Word Origin and History for prodigally



mid-15c., a back-formation from prodigality, or else from Middle French prodigal and directly from Late Latin prodigalis, from Latin prodigus "wasteful," from prodigere "drive away, waste," from pro- "forth" (see pro-) + agere "to drive" (see act (v.)). First reference is to prodigial son, from Vulgate Latin filius prodigus (Luke xv:11-32). As a noun, "prodigal person," 1590s, from the adjective (the Latin adjective also was used as a noun).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper