AskDefine | Define profligate

Dictionary Definition

profligate adj
1 recklessly wasteful; "prodigal in their expenditures" [syn: extravagant, prodigal, spendthrift]
2 unrestrained by convention or morality; "Congreve draws a debauched aristocratic society"; "deplorably dissipated and degraded"; "riotous living"; "fast women" [syn: debauched, degenerate, degraded, dissipated, dissolute, libertine, riotous, fast]


1 a dissolute man in fashionable society [syn: rake, rip, blood, roue]
2 a recklessly extravagant consumer [syn: prodigal, squanderer]

User Contributed Dictionary



From profligatus, participle of profligo

Pronunciation 1

  • a RP /ˈprɒflɪgət/
  • a US , /ˈprɑːflɪgət/


  1. Inclined to waste resources or behave extravagantly.
  2. Overthrown; beaten; conquered, especially by vice.


  1. An abandoned person; one openly and shamelessly vicious; a dissolute person.
  2. An overly wasteful or extravagant individual.

Pronunciation 2

  • a RP /ˈprɒflɪgeɪt/
  • a US , /ˈprɑːflɪgeɪt/


  1. To drive away; to overcome.
    • 1840, Alexander Walker, Woman Physiologically Considered as to Mind, Morals, Marriage, Matrimonial Slavery, Infidelity and Divorce, page 157:
      Such a stipulation would remove one powerful temptation to profligate pennyless seducers, of whom there are too many prowling in the higher circles ;

Extensive Definition

A spendthrift (also called profligate) is someone who spends money prodigiously and who is extravagant and recklessly wasteful. The origin of the word is someone who is able to spend money acquired by the thrift of predecessors or ancestors.
Historical examples of spendthrifts include George IV, Ludwig II, and Marie Antoinette. The term is often applied sarcastically in the press as an adjective to governments who are thought to be wasting public money. William Hogarth's A Rake's Progress displays in graphical form the downwardly spiraling fortunes of a wealthy but spendthrift son and heir who loses his money, and who as a consequence is imprisoned in the Fleet Prison and ultimately Bedlam.

Legal issues

see also Spendthrift trust The modern legal remedy for spendthrifts is usually bankruptcy. However, during the 19th and 20th centuries, a few jurisdictions, such as the U.S. state of Oregon, experimented with laws under which the family of such a person could have him legally declared a "spendthrift" by a court of law. In turn, such persons were considered to lack the legal capacity to enter into binding contracts. Even though such laws made life harder for creditors (who now had the burden of ensuring that any prospective debtor had not been judicially declared a spendthrift), they were thought to be justified by the public policy of keeping a spendthrift's family from ending up in the poorhouse or on welfare.
Such laws have since been abolished in favor of modern bankruptcy, which is more favorable to creditors.


Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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