Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun One who wastes, especially one who wastes money; a profligate.
  • noun An idler or a loafer.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Anything cast away as spoiled in the making, or bad; waste; refuse.
  • noun Anything allowed to run to waste.
  • noun A profligate.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun obsolete, Prov. Eng., engraving, obsolete, Prov. Eng., engraving Any waste thing or substance.
  • noun obsolete, Prov. Eng., engraving, Prov. Eng., engraving Waste land or common land.
  • noun Prov. Eng., engraving, engraving A profligate.
  • noun engraving A neglected child; a street Arab.
  • noun Obs. or Prov. Eng. Anything cast away as bad or useless, as imperfect bricks, china, etc.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun dated One who is profligate, who wastes time or resources extravagantly.

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

  • noun someone who dissipates resources self-indulgently

Etymologies

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

[wast(e) + -rel (as in scoundrel).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

1847, waste +‎ -rel (“(pejorative)”).

Examples

  • Whether it's a filibustering senator trying to kill election contribution reform legislation or a bombastic Southern congressman shouting synonyms for "wastrel" at his opponent while thumbing through a dog-eared thesaurus, C-SPAN presents trailer-trash government at its best.

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  • "wastrel" with a rifle, for his shy eyes gave the lie to his oily tongue.

    Campaign Pictures of the War in South Africa (1899-1900) Letters from the Front

  • As almost every Christian knows, the story is about a father who forgives his wastrel son, a young man who has not only spent all that he has on fast living, but also has rejected the father.

    Rev. James Martin, S.J.: Rest In Peace Christopher Hitchens

  • Mr. May interprets the parable of the Prodigal Son, for example, as not about divine forgiveness but about a father who happens to prefer his wastrel offspring to his dutiful brother.

    Isn't Love Divine

  • As almost every Christian knows, the story is about a father who forgives his wastrel son, a young man who has not only spent all that he has on fast living, but also has rejected the father.

    Rev. James Martin, S.J.: Rest In Peace Christopher Hitchens

  • If anything is clear after last week's meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy it is that the Lady is not for turning from her mission to prevent the wastrel nations of the euro zone from feasting on the productivity and hard work of her voters.

    Global Markets Move, but Merkel Won't

  • The play follows Hester's affair with former RAF pilot Freddie Page, who turns out to be a callow wastrel.

    This week's new theatre

  • A shrewd ruler, not a wastrel, though she worked her bed as no one before or since.

    In All Her Infinite Variety

  • There might be problems with the fileshare site or your ability to access it, or with servers and attachment sizes, or with wastrel writers making cock-ups.

    Archive 2010-02-01

  • Roman tales of Cleopatra as louche and languid, a bedizened wastrel, are probably crudely slanted.

    In All Her Infinite Variety

Comments

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  • a wasteful person

    September 16, 2007

  • almost synonymous with 'rich man's son'

    April 13, 2009

  • Yarb birched the village wastrel.

    February 26, 2010

  • I am the village wastrel.

    February 26, 2010

  • Go birch yourself, yarb.

    February 26, 2010

  • I love this word and it isn't used enough these days, in my opinion. Came across it the other day and the quote stuck with me.

    "Jane never once wrote anything about him expressing the least affection. She hardly ever wrote anything about him at all. ... She left her parents' church to marry Edward Mecom... Brattle Street was also Edward Mecom's church. He led the church in singing psalms. He had a beautiful voice. He once proposed opening a singing school. Maybe she loved the sound of him.

    "If there was something at home that Jane had wanted to run from, marrying proved no escape. Edward Mecom had no place of his own. Once they were married, he simply moved in....

    "Jane was restless and impatient and even saucy and provoking. The day she got married, she might also have been pregnant, which would explain why her father gave her permission to marry so unpromising a man at so unwise an age. Very many eighteenth-century brides were pregnant when they married. Neither a fortress nor a Maidenhead will hold out long after they begin to parly, says Poor Richard. A Harvard society even debated, in 1721, 'whether it be lawful to lie with one's sweetheart before marriage.'

    "But in the parish register of the Brattle Street Church, the first child recorded as having been born to Jane Franklin and Edward Mecom didn't arrive until nearly two years after their wedding. If she was pregnant when she married, she either miscarried or gave birth to a baby born dead. And then she might have stared out across the water in the harbor and known that she had married a wastrel for naught."

    --Jill Lepore, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013), p. 53-54

    April 28, 2017