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


  • enPR: thrĭft'ē, IPA(key): /ˈθɹɪfti/
  • (file)


thrifty (comparative thriftier, superlative thriftiest)

  1. Showing thrift; economical; frugal.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:frugal
    Antonym: spendthrift
    • 1756, Ben Jonson, ‎Peter Whalley, The devil is an ass, 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;
    • 1782, Robert Dodsley, A Collection of Poems in Six Volumes - Volume 6, page 57:
      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, Putnam, 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, of a person) Thriving, prosperous, successful.
    • 1796, John Horne Tooke, Speeches During the Westminster Election, 1796, 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.
  3. (dated, of an animal or plant) Growing rapidly or vigorously; thriving.
    • 1798, The Massachusetts Agricultural Repository and Journal, 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.
    • 1799, Agricultural Magazine - Volume 1, 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.
  4. (Can we verify(+) this sense?) (obsolete) Secured by thrift; well husbanded.
    • c. 1598–1600, 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 606515358, [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
    • 1579, Immeritô [pseudonym; Edmund Spenser], “Iuly. Aegloga Septima.”, in The Shepheardes Calender: [], London: [] Hugh Singleton, [], OCLC 606515406; reprinted as H[einrich] Oskar Sommer, editor, The Shepheardes Calender [], London: John C. Nimmo, [], 1890, OCLC 890162479, folio 42, recto:
      They han great stores, and thriftye flockes, / great freendes and feeble foes
    • 1775, Pamphlets, Religious: Miscellaneous - Volume 24, 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.
    • {{quote-book|en|year=1797| title=The Monthly Mirror: Reflecting Men and Manners |author=| page=138| passage=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 and of nuts, under the cool and impenetrable recesses of the glade.}
  5. (Can we verify(+) this sense?) Having a pleasant appearance; looking or being in good condition.
    • 1784, John Bunyan, The Whole Works of that Eminent Servant of Christ: Mr. John Bunyan,Carefully Revised and Corrected; and Illustrated with Notes by Mr. William Mason, and Others, 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.

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