verb (used without object)

to be sparing or frugal; economize (often followed by on): They scrimped and saved for everything they have. He spends most of his money on clothes, and scrimps on food.

verb (used with object)

to be sparing or restrictive of or in; limit severely: to scrimp food.
to keep on short allowance; provide sparingly for: to scrimp their elderly parents.


Origin of scrimp

1710–20; < Scandinavian; compare Swedish skrympa, Norwegian, Danish skrumpe (orig. *skrimpa, strong v.) to shrivel, cognate with Middle High German schrimpfen to contract; see shrimp
Related formsun·scrimped, adjective

Synonyms for scrimp Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for scrimp

Contemporary Examples of scrimp

Historical Examples of scrimp

  • He felt that he had earned a good one, and did not intend to scrimp himself.


    Maud Wilder Goodwin

  • The manager has a fixed salary, so that there is no temptation to scrimp the buyers.

  • The news was entirely unexpected and very unwelcome to Mrs. Scrimp.

    Grandmother Elsie

    Martha Finley

  • "I've always had medical advice for her when it was needed," snapped Mrs. Scrimp.

    Grandmother Elsie

    Martha Finley

  • Mrs. Scrimp and Gracie were already seated at the table and had began their meal.

    Grandmother Elsie

    Martha Finley

British Dictionary definitions for scrimp



(when intr, sometimes foll by on) to be very economical or sparing in the use (of) (esp in the phrase scrimp and save)
(tr) to treat meanlyhe is scrimping his children
(tr) to cut too small


a less common word for scant
Derived Formsscrimpy, adjectivescrimpily, adverbscrimpiness, noun

Word Origin for scrimp

C18: Scottish, origin unknown
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 scrimp

"to make too small," 1774, originally in English an adjective, "scant, meager" (1718), possibly from a Scandinavian source (cf. Swedish skrumpna "to shrink, shrivel up," Danish skrumpen "shrunken, shriveled"), or from a continental Germanic source akin to Middle High German schrimpfen, German schrumpfen "to shrivel," from Proto-Germanic *skrimp-, from PIE root *(s)kerb- "to turn, bend." Related: Scrimped; scrimping.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper