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Earliest uses (late 16th c.) "to spend recklessly or prodigiously", also "to scatter over a wide area". Of unknown origin. Perhaps a blend of scatter +‎ wander.

Compare Danish skvætte (rare)/skvatte (to splash) (nominalised: skvæt), Icelandic skvetta (to squirt), Swedish skvätta (to splash), Norwegian Bokmål skvette.[1]


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈskwɒnd.ə/, [ˈskwɒnd.ə]
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈskwɑn.dɚ/, [ˈskʷɑn.dɚ]
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɒndə(ɹ)


squander (third-person singular simple present squanders, present participle squandering, simple past and past participle squandered)

  1. To waste, lavish, splurge; to spend lavishly or profusely; to dissipate.
    • 1746, Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac[2]
      Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that's the stuff life is made of.
    • 2011 September 24, David Ornstein, “Arsenal 3 - 0 Bolton”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      As the game opened up, Bolton squandered a fine opportunity to equalise - Chris Eagles shooting straight at Szczesny - but then back came Arsenal.
  2. (obsolete) To scatter; to disperse.
    • 1681, John Dryden, The Spanish Fryar: Or, the Double Discovery. [], London: [] Richard Tonson and Jacob Tonson, [], →OCLC, Act I, page 2:
      [] our ſquander’d Troops he rallies: []
  3. (obsolete) To wander at random; to scatter.

Usage notes[edit]

Squander implies starting with many resources, such as great wealth, and then wasting them (using them up to little purpose or little effect), often ending with little. Particularly used in phrases such as “squander an opportunity” or “squander an inheritance”. It may be used even if one starts with little, though usually in some construction such as “squander what little he had”.