Definition of parsimony in English:



mass noun
  • Extreme unwillingness to spend money or use resources.

    ‘a great tradition of public design has been shattered by government parsimony’
    • ‘He argues that a ruler who wishes to avoid a reputation for parsimony will find that he needs to spend lavishly and ostentatiously.’
    • ‘They have all blamed Government parsimony and bureaucratic obstruction.’
    • ‘What connects the two sets of images - the woodcuts and the paintings - is a kind of parsimony.’
    • ‘The railways, too, were once a public utility, but were always treated with a degree of parsimony where funding was concerned.’
    • ‘Even if the display erred on the side of parsimony, the gleaming expanse of wooden flooring and the glittering space above seemed to invite one in to marvel.’
    • ‘And so to see a club like York City, once a byword for financial prudence and parsimony, to be staring over the abyss is a mortal blow.’
    • ‘If it seems that way, it is only because of the puritanism, the pious emotional parsimony, of our American era.’
    • ‘But perhaps the owners' parsimony is part of the reason for the bank's longevity.’
    • ‘The parsimony of the process explains how he was able to release two albums full of his material within a year.’
    • ‘It's particularly galling that German-speakers, not noted for syllabic parsimony, have no problem with it.’
    • ‘Until recently, the mean generally went undetected, their parsimony hidden from everyone but its recipients.’
    • ‘There is parsimony and a restraint in what they say, which is very remarkable.’
    • ‘A parsimony of spirit haunts education policy, exacerbated by fear of the extremes.’
    • ‘Some cynics even dared to advance the theory that parsimony on the behalf of the home management had stayed their fingers on the on-off switch.’
    • ‘We have since paid a terrible price for that parsimony, as those now attending the inquests into the deaths of their loved ones at Paddington will attest.’
    • ‘All this was true in 1997, even after the years of Conservative parsimony.’
    • ‘In fact, impartiality is far less important in analysing data than parsimony and rigorous self discipline.’
    • ‘Yet the decorations were always meager, and their gifts chosen with his usual parsimony.’
    • ‘But others point to parsimony, quoting examples of penny-pinching and bare-bones operations.’
    • ‘Relations had otherwise, it seems, become somewhat strained because of the husband's unreasonable parsimony.’
    meanness, miserliness, parsimoniousness, niggardliness, close-fistedness, closeness, penuriousness, penny-pinching, cheese-paring, illiberality, frugality
    View synonyms


  • principle (or law) of parsimony

    • The scientific principle that things are usually connected or behave in the simplest or most economical way, especially with reference to alternative evolutionary pathways.

      Compare with Occam's razor
      • ‘Lest they fall into anthropomorphizing, many behaviorists follow the principle of parsimony, often called Occam's razor, that restricts inferences to the simplest adequate explanation of any particular animal behavior.’
      • ‘He is remembered as the father of the medieval principle of parsimony, or economy, that advises anyone confronted with multiple explanations or models of a phenomenon to choose the simplest explanation first.’
      • ‘Well it is taken to refer to the principle of parsimony that, from the Latin, ‘it is vain to do with more what can be done with less’, or ‘a plurality of things is not to be posited without necessity’.’
      • ‘But this would require us to take an a priori position in favor of the principle of parsimony in order to preserve methodological naturalism.’
      • ‘If so, the law of parsimony of explanation would suggest that the construct of vital exhaustion is redundant.’
      • ‘When there are several branches with low bootstrap values, the numbers of genes in ancestral species are estimated by the same procedure as the above under the principle of parsimony.’
      • ‘Generally, following the principle of parsimony, if competing models explain equally well, the more parsimonious model is preferred.’
      • ‘Such a loop is initialized with the simplest parameterized model and proceeds with more and more complex structures until the optimal order of the model is found in accordance with a principle of parsimony.’
      • ‘It should be noted that while others might apply the razor to eliminate the entire spiritual world, Ockham did not apply the principle of parsimony to the articles of faith.’
      • ‘Consistent with the principle of parsimony, we then use the correct standard errors of the parameter estimates to drop the highly insignificant variables.’


Late Middle English: from Latin parsimonia, parcimonia, from parcere ‘be sparing’.