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From Middle English thrifty, threfty, thryfty, þrifti, equivalent to thrift +‎ -y.





thrifty (comparative thriftier, superlative thriftiest)

  1. Showing thrift; economical; frugal.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:frugal
    Antonym: spendthrift
    • c. 1625, Ben Jonson, “The Staple of News”, in Peter Whalley, editor, The Works of Ben Johnson[1], volume IV, London, published 1756, act III, scene iv, page 201:
      That was a certain trade, while th' age was thrifty, / And men good husbands, look'd into their stocks, / Had their minds bounded; now the public riot / Prostitutes all, scatters away in coaches, / In footmens coats, and waiting womens gowns
    • 1754, William Whitehead, “Elegies: Elegy I”, in Robert Dodsley, editor, A Collection of Poems in Six Volumes by Several Hands[2], London: J. Hughs, published 1765, page 54:
      Nor less disastrous, should his thrifty urn / Neglected leave the once well-water'd land, / To dreary wastes yon paradise would turn, / Polluted ooze, or heaps of barren sand.
    • 1976, Anthony Scaduto, Scapegoat: The Lonesome Death of Bruno Richard Hauptmann, New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, →ISBN, page 110:
      Both were thrifty and hardworking. From the beginning of their marriage both worked steadily and saved every penny above their basic living expenses. By their first anniversary they were saving almost all of Richard's earnings as a union carpenter—eighty to ninety dollars a week.
  2. (dated) Thriving, prosperous, successful; (of an animal or plant) growing rapidly or vigorously.
    • a. 1688, John Bunyan, “The Water of Life”, in The Whole Works of that Eminent Servant of CHRIST, the late Reverend and much Esteemed Mr. John Bunyan [][3], volume II, London, published 1784, page 1193:
      The life of religion is this water of life; where that runs, where that is received, and where things are done in this spirit, there all things are well: The church thrifty, the soul thrifty, graces thrifty, and all is well.
    • 1794 November 20, “A letter from an anonymous 'gentleman'”, in The Commercial and Agricultural Magazine, for 1799[4], volume I [], London: Vaughan Grifiths, Paternoster-Row., published 1799, Economy of American Commerce, &c. of America, page 171:
      the lands on this road are of an excellent quality, and in many places light timbered, in others covered with thrifty oak, black walnut, sugar maple, beach and linden.
    • 1796, John Horne Tooke, The Speeches of John Horne Tooke, During the Westminster Election, 1796 [][5], London: J. Ridgeway, York-street, page 10:
      But, Gentlemen, the gallant Admiral has told you he has two loves; and he seems to have made a prudent choice, and been a very thrifty wooer.
    • 1807, “ANSWERS to Agricultural Queries”, in Papers; Consisting of Communications Made to the Massachusetts Society For Promoting Agriculture, and Extracts[6], Boston: The Trustees of the Society, 50th, page 47:
      A thrifty tree of twelve or eighteen inches diameter will increase in its quantity or weight by one year's growth, beyond that of a small sprout or tree in a ratio of more than five to one.
  3. (obsolete) Preserved by thrift; carefully managed.
    • 1579, Immeritô [pseudonym; Edmund Spenser], “Iulye. Ægloga Septima.”, in The Shepheardes Calender: [], London: [] Hugh Singleton, [], →OCLC; reprinted as H[einrich] Oskar Sommer, editor, The Shepheardes Calender [], London: John C. Nimmo, [], 1890, →OCLC, folio 42, recto:
      They han great stores, and thriftye flockes, / great freendes and feeble foes
    • c. 1598–1600 (date written), William Shakespeare, “As You Like It”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act II, scene iii], page 191, column 1:
      But do not ſo: I haue fiue hundred Crownes,
      The thriftie hire I ſaued vnder your Father,
      Which I did ſtore to be my foſter Nurſe
    • 1797, “On the Decline of the Ancient Grandeur & Picturesque Beauty”, in The Monthly Mirror: Reflecting Men and Manners, volume III, London, page 138:
      No more the shadows of the plane-tree and the beech allay the intensity of the solstitial heat; no more the feathered tribes are heard to chirrup amidst the sprays, or the active squirrel seen to disport among the boughs, or collect his thrifty store of acrons [sic] and of nuts, under the cool and impenetrable recesses of the glade.
    • 1854, George E. Ellis, Our Good Land, and its Good Institutions: A Discourse Delivered in Harvard Church, Charlestown, on Thanksgiving Day, November 30, 1854[7], Boston: Crosby, Nichols, and Company., page 16:
      The amount of patient toil, with its thrifty rewards; of domestic happiness, with its radiant comforts; the amount of intelligent culture, of high-aimed virtue, and of kindly charity, — that have been realized here, if not matter of our boasting, is the glory of our inheritance.

Derived terms



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