Definition of MISERLY

MISERLY Adjective

Miserly is an adjective that describes someone who is excessively frugal or stingy, often to the point of being unwilling to spend money or resources, even when necessary. It characterizes a person who hoards wealth and is reluctant to share or spend it.

As an adjective, miserly refers to the quality of being overly cautious with money and resources. A miserly individual is typically unwilling to part with their possessions or finances, prioritizing saving over spending to an extreme degree. This trait is often viewed negatively, as it suggests a lack of generosity and an excessive focus on material wealth.

Characteristics of Miserly Behavior: Miserly behavior is marked by extreme frugality and reluctance to spend money, even on essential needs or worthwhile causes. Such individuals may avoid social activities that require expenditure, neglect personal well-being to save money, and refrain from charitable giving. This behavior can strain relationships and create a reputation of being ungenerous or selfish.

Psychological and Social Implications: The term miserly carries significant psychological and social implications. Psychologically, it may be linked to fear of poverty, insecurity, or a deep-seated need for control. Socially, miserly behavior can lead to isolation, as others may perceive the miserly individual as unkind or uncharitable. It contrasts with values of generosity and community support.

Historical and Cultural Context: Throughout history and across cultures, the miserly person has often been a subject of literature and folklore, typically portrayed in a negative light. Characters such as Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” epitomize the miserly archetype, highlighting the personal and social costs of excessive frugality.

Economic Impact: On a broader economic level, miserly behavior can have implications for the economy. While saving is generally beneficial, excessive saving to the point of not spending at all can reduce consumer demand, which in turn can slow economic growth. Economies thrive on a balance of saving and spending, and miserly behavior disrupts this balance.

In conclusion, miserly is an adjective describing extreme frugality or stinginess. This trait, marked by an excessive reluctance to spend money or resources, is often viewed negatively due to its psychological, social, and economic implications. Understanding the roots and impacts of miserly behavior can help address its negative effects and promote a healthier balance of saving and spending.

Examples of MISERLY in a sentence

  • The old man was known for his miserly habits, hoarding every penny.
  • Despite his wealth, he lived a miserly existence, refusing to spend money on luxuries.
  • The miserly landlord refused to make repairs to the tenants’ apartments.
  • She criticized her boss for his miserly approach to employee benefits.
  • The company’s miserly budgeting led to layoffs and cost-cutting measures.
  • The miserly character in the novel was portrayed as greedy and selfish.
  • The miserly billionaire donated only a fraction of his wealth to charity.
  • His miserly behavior alienated him from friends and family who were in need.

Etymology of MISERLY

The term miserly has its etymological roots in English, offering insights into its linguistic origins.

  • English Formation: “Miserly” is derived from the noun “miser,” which comes from the Latin word “miserārī,” meaning “to pity” or “to be wretched.” In English, “miser” originally referred to a person who hoarded wealth and lived in a state of extreme frugality or stinginess. The suffix “-ly” is added to “miser” to form the adjective “miserly,” indicating the characteristic of being like a miser.
  • Semantic Context: In modern usage, “miserly” describes a person who is extremely reluctant to spend money, excessively frugal, or excessively concerned with accumulating wealth. It conveys a sense of stinginess, parsimony, or unwillingness to share resources with others.

The term miserly emphasizes its association with extreme frugality, stinginess, or reluctance to spend money, reflecting the behavior typically attributed to a miser.


  • Stingy
  • Tightfisted
  • Greedy
  • Parsimonious
  • Niggardly
  • Scrooge-like
  • Cheap
  • Frugal


  • Generous
  • Liberal
  • Open-handed
  • Benevolent
  • Magnanimous
  • Charitable
  • Generous
  • Munificent


  • Greed
  • Selfishness
  • Frugality
  • Avarice
  • Thriftiness
  • Tightness
  • Self-centeredness
  • Stinginess

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