What is a Skinflint?—Origin & Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Before we start, just remember: if you’re reading this article to avoid paying for an English lesson, you just might be a skinflint! Jokes aside, let’s delve into the meaning of this somewhat old-fashioned yet utterly charming term. It sounds like a silly word, but it actually makes sense once you understand its origin.

Defining a ‘Skinflint’

What is a Skinflint Origin Meaning

Now, what is a skinflint? Simply put, a skinflint is a noun for an extremely parsimonious or miserly person. It’s not someone who’s just a little careful with their money; no, a skinflint takes frugality to a whole new level. If you’ve never heard of the term, don’t worry. It’s mostly used in the UK and British English.

The Birth of Skinflint: Origin and Etymology

Skinflint Ngram
Skinflint usage trend.

So, where did this term originate from? The etymology of the term skinflint is quite literal. It emerged during the 1700s and is derived from the idea of a person so miserly that they would skin a flint to save or gain anything. And since flint is notoriously hard to skin (spoiler alert: it’s impossible), this gives you an idea of the lengths a skinflint would go to save a penny.

Hyphen or No Hyphen?

No need for a hyphen or a space in this one. Skinflint as a noun is all one word. It’s as unified as a skinflint’s dedication to saving money!

  • Correct: John is a skinflint.
  • Incorrect: John is a skin-flint.
  • Also incorrect: John is a skin flint.

Synonyms for ‘Skinflint’

Need more ways to describe your stingy friend or a thrifty family member? Any of these words work just the same as skinflint, and some sound just as silly.

  • Miser
  • Penny-pincher
  • Scrooge
  • Tightwad
  • Tight arse
  • Cheapskate
  • Spendthrift
  • Nipcheese

Examples in a Sentence: Putting ‘Skinflint’ into Action

What is a Skinflint Origin Meaning 1

Now let’s look at some examples of skinflint in a handful of sentences to show you how it fits within a conversation.

  • John was such a skinflint that he reused his teabags at least three times each.
  • The millionaire, surprisingly, lived like a shrivelled skinflint, driving an old car and living in a modest house.
  • She’s a notorious skinflint when it comes to tipping people in the service industry, and it’s so embarrassing to go out for dinner with her.
  • The skinflint next door would rather walk for miles than pay for a bus ticket.
  • People always ask me how I seem to have so much money, and I tell them it’s because I’m a real skinflint.
  • Don’t be such a penny-pinching skinflint; just spring for a flight and come to Cuba with the rest of us!

Goodbye, from a Skinflint

Whether you’re a skinflint or a spendthrift, understanding the origins and uses of this term is bound to add richness (pun intended) to your vocabulary. Just remember, being frugal is smart, but being a skinflint? Well, that’s a whole different story! Be sure to read through my other helpful grammar tips and load up on knowledge!

Enjoyed reading about this idiom? Check out some others we covered: