Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Extravagant wastefulness.
  • n. Profuse generosity.
  • n. Extreme abundance; lavishness.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. wasteful extravagance
  • n. lavish generosity

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Extravagance in expenditure, particularly of money; excessive liberality; profusion; waste; -- opposed to frugality, economy, and parsimony.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The quality of being prodigal; extravagance in expenditure, particularly of money; profusion; waste.
  • n. Excessive or profuse liberality.
  • n. Synonyms Wastefulness, lavishness, squandering. See extravagant.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. excessive spending
  • n. the trait of spending extravagantly

Etymologies

Middle English prodigalite, from Old French, from Late Latin prōdigālitās, from Latin prōdigus, prodigal, from prōdigere, drive away, to squander : prōd-, prō-, for, forth; see proud + agere, to drive; see ag- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • Has she not bestowed on him every gift in prodigality?

    I.6

  • 83 But this vain prodigality, which the prudence of Diocletian might justly despise, was enjoyed with surprise and transport by the Roman people.

    The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

  • She there appears surrounded by the luxuriance of vegetable life: she pours forth her bounty with a profusion which the partizans of utility would call prodigality, and covers the earth with a splendour of beauty, which serves no other purpose than to minister to the delight of human existence.

    Travels in France during the years 1814-15 Comprising a residence at Paris, during the stay of the allied armies, and at Aix, at the period of the landing of Bonaparte, in two volumes.

  • But his prodigality, which is excessive, after a time brought him to London; and the bishop imagined that, with his help, my scruples would at last be conquered.

    The Adventures of Hugh Trevor

  • I regarded _tragic_ knowledge as the most beautiful luxury of our culture, as its most precious, most noble, most dangerous kind of prodigality; but, nevertheless, in view of its overflowing wealth, as a justifiable _luxury_.

    The Case Of Wagner, Nietzsche Contra Wagner, and Selected Aphorisms.

  • Further, prodigality and meanness are excesses and defects with regard to wealth; and meanness we always impute to those who care more than they ought for wealth, but we sometimes apply the word 'prodigality' in a complex sense; for we call those men prodigals who are incontinent and spend money on self-indulgence.

    The NICOMACHEAN ETHICS

  • This, then, is the sense in which we take the word 'prodigality'.

    The NICOMACHEAN ETHICS

  • _Academic_ original after Raleigh's consignment to the Tower, -- in that fierce satire into which so much Elizabethan bitterness is condensed, under the difference of the reckless prodigality which is stereotyped in the fable, we get, in the earlier scenes, some glimpses of this

    The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakspere Unfolded

  • The presumptuous weak who mistake the wish of distinction for the workings of talent, admire the eccentricities of the gifted youth who is reared in opulence, and, mistaking the prodigality which is only the effect of his fortune, for the attributes of his talents, imitate his errors, and imagine that, by copying the blemishes of his conduct, they possess what is illustrious in his mind.

    The Life Studies And Works Of Benjamin West Esq

  • Sometimes they say them backward, when they sound like “prodigality,” “drunkenness,” “wastefulness,” and “immorality.”

    The Somnambulists

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