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

  • adjective Grudging and petty in giving or spending.
  • adjective Meanly small; scanty or meager.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In the manner of a niggard; sparingly; parsimoniously.
  • Like a niggard; sordidly parsimonious or sparing; close-fisted; stingy: as, a niggardly person.
  • Characteristic of a niggard; meanly parsimonious; scanty: as, niggardly entertainment; niggardly thrift.
  • Synonyms Parsimonious, Stingy, etc.(see penurious), illiberal, close-fisted, saving, chary.

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

  • adjective Meanly covetous or avaricious in dealing with others; stingy; niggard.
  • adverb In a niggard manner.

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

  • adjective Withholding for the sake of meanness; stingy, miserly.
  • adverb In a parsimonious way; sparingly, stingily.

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

  • adjective petty or reluctant in giving or spending


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From niggard + -ly.


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  • One of my favorite words, but almost everytime I use it, people get offended. "Niggardly" has nothing to do with "niggars," people!

    December 4, 2007

  • but everything to do with niggards!

    December 5, 2007

  • I understand that the only overt connection between this word and the slur is phonetic, but you have an impoverished notion of language and a tin ear if you're not conscious of its evocative power.

    I'm not saying that "niggardly" shouldn't be used, but baiting those who pause at its use is itself niggardly, both pedantic and small minded.

    December 5, 2007

  • Visitors to Australia are often surprised to see Coon Cheese being sold in the supermarket. The current (and previous) owners of the brand have vigorously defended the name in honour of the inventor of the cheese's original formula, a certain E.W. Coon. Given that the name has nothing to do with racial abuse, I really don't have a problem with it. If anything it probably helps to defuse the potency of coon used as a slur because to the Australian ear it sounds vaguely silly.

    I don't think I've enlightened the commentary on niggardly very much. If I wasn't a vegan I'd go and have some cheese right now. Sheeesz.

    December 5, 2007

  • Normally I would agree with John's eminently reasonable view, which I think of as essentially Garneresque (be aware of the likely impact of a particular choice of term or expression on one's readers/listeners, and if it seems to be undesirably distracting, consider an alternative; Garner argues for this approach on purely pragmatic grounds).

    But then I recall that there are cases on record of people losing their jobs for using the word*, and I think that we do have some obligation to take a stand against rampant stupidity and ignorance.

    niggardly brouhaha

    December 5, 2007

  • Sionnach, I agree that the incident you link to is a travesty. I can't state it any better than the author, who calls it "stupidity masquerading as sensitivity." I'd like to think there's a middle ground where people can be respectful without resorting to mindless censorship.

    Sorry if I was a bit heated there, I didn't need to be calling names. I'm no fan of political correctness, but I value politeness, and should have shown more myself.

    December 5, 2007

  • Dinosaur Comics used it.

    March 1, 2009

  • “Be not niggardly of what costs thee nothing, as courtesy, counsel, & countenance.�? --Benjamin Franklin

    June 17, 2009

  • Watson used this word when he was talking about a female client with two children whose husband had just died and she was about to be turned out of her house.

    June 9, 2012

  • It is so odd that all of the examples shown refer to the word as misconstrued. Does this misconstruction constitute an eggcorn?

    May 6, 2015

  • See"niggardly"

    July 19, 2016