Definition of niggardly in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈnɪɡədli/


1Ungenerous with money, time, etc.; mean: he accused the Government of being unbelievably niggardly
More example sentences
  • I remain lukewarm in my ‘praise’ for this change whilst the Conservative Party continues to be so niggardly in its support for the rights of the individual in his/her dealings with the State.
  • Brankin has promised financial backing from the Scottish Executive, but the private sector in Scotland has traditionally been niggardly in its support of major golfing events.
  • The wife of a niggardly merchant asks the loan of a hundred francs from a priest to buy finery.
informal stingy, mingy, tight, tight-fisted, money-grubbing, money-grabbing
North American informal cheap
vulgar slang tight-arsed
archaic near
1.1Meagre and given grudgingly: niggardly allowances from the Treasury a niggardly shoestring budget
More example sentences
  • This contrasts so markedly with the niggardly travel concessions in this city and the miserable potential offer for the possible future by the miserly Chancellor of the Exchequer.
  • The freedom he afforded his people was great… but couple it with the niggardly compensation, and you couldn't get anyone good to work for you for very long today.
  • He must dodge the efforts of Danforth, representing the board of the co-op, from evicting him with a niggardly severance pay.
meagre, inadequate, scanty, scant, paltry, limited, restricted, modest, insufficient, sparse, spare, deficient, negligible, insubstantial, skimpy, short, little, lean, small, slight, slender, poor, miserable, pitiful, puny
informal measly, stingy, pathetic, piddling
rare exiguous


In a mean or meagre manner.
Example sentences
  • So, while I saw the guests sipping niggardly the punch in their short glasses, I helped myself to a decanter.


The word niggardly has no connection with the highly offensive term nigger, but because of the similarity of sound and its negative meaning of ‘mean, ungenerous’ many people are uncomfortable with using it for fear of causing offence, and in the US it is now widely avoided.



Pronunciation: /ˈnɪɡədlɪnəs/
Example sentences
  • Men with implausible whiskers and killer breath traded ribaldry and cursed the niggardliness of non-buyers, while women doled out penny dainties to raggedy kids and cackled about their menfolk's amorous shortcomings.
  • There is a kind of niggardliness that mistakes itself for measure, for judgment.
  • Its function is to purify the heart from the lowly bestial attributes of lust, calamities of the tongue, anger, malice, jealousy, love of the world, love of fame, niggardliness, greed, ostentation, vanity, deception, etc.


Mid 16th century: from niggard + -ly1.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: nig|gard¦ly

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