Definition of profligate in US English:



  • 1Recklessly extravagant or wasteful in the use of resources.

    ‘profligate consumers of energy’
    • ‘Global warming and its consequences are almost certainly the result of our profligate fossil-fuel consumption, and it is already happening.’
    • ‘How, in all good conscience, do we say ‘no’ to climate change refugees who point at our profligate use of energy that contributed to their plight?’
    • ‘The range of responsibilities and duties of the genteel woman revealed by these documents challenges the notion of the frivolous or profligate female consumer portrayed in history.’
    • ‘Dismissing conservation as a low priority is dangerous in that it will encourage a profligate use of natural resources and a lack of concern about the current human destruction of the Earth.’
    • ‘However, they are also getting cheap household and other labor, plus an excuse to avoid cutting back on profligate consumption and waste.’
    • ‘A sadly appropriate analogy would be the profligate and highly overindebted consumer who has finally reached the end of his rope.’
    • ‘We owe it to our children and our children's children and to those in developing countries disadvantaged today by our profligate and extravagant Western lifestyles to be more environmentally responsible.’
    • ‘The combined loss of possession and position is profligate to the point of wasteful.’
    • ‘It is the profligate consumer who has kept the economy afloat since 2000.’
    • ‘Some of these disasters, such as climate change, are the direct result of our profligate use of cheap energy.’
    • ‘Would the relevant ancestors have been thrifty ants, squirrels and bees rather than the profligate grasshoppers and elephant seals appealed to here?’
    • ‘Why are the statistics about education debt, house prices, high rents and job insecurity left out of the picture, while the armchair-theories about profligate hedonists get so much airplay?’
    • ‘Manifestly, America's bubble economy of the late 1990s had its center in the most profligate consumer borrowing and spending binge in history.’
    • ‘Why, runs the argument, should these countries deny themselves electricity, heat and transport simply to support the profligate consumption of rich Europeans, Australians and Americans?’
    • ‘Korea, he says, must tackle the environmental crisis brought on by its profligate consumption of fossil fuels.’
    • ‘This rough-around-the-edges high school dropout's profligate ways led to personal bankruptcy and, ultimately, some very dubious dealings with shady characters.’
    • ‘It is interesting to observe that so many of the best examples are almost entirely glazed - the all-glass facade, once regarded as synonymous with the profligate use of energy, is now seen as the best hope.’
    • ‘Those with the wealth to engage in profligate energy consumption contribute to the storms that kill and displace hundreds of thousands of people living on coastal lowlands in Bangladesh and elsewhere.’
    • ‘Though initially aimed at profligate Italy, the actual culprits were Germany and France, which have been running big deficits over the last three years as their economies flirted with recession.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, the extent of the downswing will be proportional to boom-time excesses, and the profligate consumer sector will be forced to retrench.’
    wasteful, extravagant, spendthrift, improvident, prodigal, immoderate, excessive, thriftless, imprudent, reckless, irresponsible
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Licentious; dissolute.
      ‘he succumbed to drink and a profligate lifestyle’
      • ‘In Northern Europe, they'll deny you a discharge if they think you ran up the original debt in a profligate or immoral fashion.’
      • ‘The recent support for the party of Pim Fortuyn in the Netherlands has failed to quell the spirit of profligate immorality endemic to that country.’
      dissolute, degenerate, dissipated, debauched, corrupt, depraved, reprobate, unprincipled, immoral
      View synonyms


  • A licentious, dissolute person.

    • ‘Should not those on the same income who can live more frugally pay less tax than the profligate?’
    • ‘It was believed Germans were afraid of pooling their successful monetary sovereignty with putative profligates such as, perhaps, Italy.’
    • ‘White, blue, purple, and scarlet were the colors of the gods, priests, profligates, saints and monarchs, either in combination or singularly.’
    • ‘The profligates that biologists call stem cells have their own secret for staying young: run away and hide in a place far from the machinations of transcription factors with an eye on your genes.’
    • ‘By so doing, these programs both protect the profligate against the effects of their myopia and insure that everyone contributes to helping such persons.’
    libertine, debauchee, degenerate, reprobate, roué, lecher, rake, loose-liver, dissolute person
    View synonyms


Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘overthrown, routed’): from Latin profligatus ‘dissolute’, past participle of profligare ‘overthrow, ruin’, from pro- ‘forward, down’ + fligere ‘strike down’.