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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They have all blamed Government parsimony and bureaucratic obstruction.’
    • ‘All this was true in 1997, even after the years of Conservative parsimony.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It's particularly galling that German-speakers, not noted for syllabic parsimony, have no problem with it.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The railways, too, were once a public utility, but were always treated with a degree of parsimony where funding was concerned.’
    • ‘Relations had otherwise, it seems, become somewhat strained because of the husband's unreasonable parsimony.’
    • ‘He argues that a ruler who wishes to avoid a reputation for parsimony will find that he needs to spend lavishly and ostentatiously.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But perhaps the owners' parsimony is part of the reason for the bank's longevity.’
    • ‘A parsimony of spirit haunts education policy, exacerbated by fear of the extremes.’
    • ‘What connects the two sets of images - the woodcuts and the paintings - is a kind of parsimony.’
    • ‘If it seems that way, it is only because of the puritanism, the pious emotional parsimony, of our American era.’
    • ‘There is parsimony and a restraint in what they say, which is very remarkable.’
    • ‘In fact, impartiality is far less important in analysing data than parsimony and rigorous self discipline.’
    • ‘The parsimony of the process explains how he was able to release two albums full of his material within a year.’
    • ‘Until recently, the mean generally went undetected, their parsimony hidden from everyone but its recipients.’
    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
      • ‘But this would require us to take an a priori position in favor of the principle of parsimony in order to preserve methodological naturalism.’
      • ‘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’.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Consistent with the principle of parsimony, we then use the correct standard errors of the parameter estimates to drop the highly insignificant variables.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Generally, following the principle of parsimony, if competing models explain equally well, the more parsimonious model is preferred.’
      • ‘If so, the law of parsimony of explanation would suggest that the construct of vital exhaustion is redundant.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’


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