thrifty, frugal, economical

Jackie4ever

Member
Korean
My wife/mom is thrifty.
My wife/mom is frugal.
My wife/mom is economcial.

Do all these sentences sound all right?

I am trying to find some word in English.
In korean there's a word that describes the person who does not spend money or resources unnecessarily and tries to save money, but not like a penny pincher, and for your information, this is(or perhaps used to be) something considered as a sort of a virtue in our society, not a negative thing. As I looked it up in dictionary I could find these three words are the closest to that word in meaning.

The question is "Can I use all those three interchangably?" or are there some differences in meaning? As I learn Egnlish as a second language, this is something I find most difficult, "find subtle nuances of meaning, sometimes it's not necessary, but I can't help but want to find them out. I need native speakers' feedback.^^

I hope my question doesn't confuse you.
Thanks in advance. Any comment will be very helpfull.^^
 
Last edited:
  • xqby

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    The first two are fine. "Frugal" might be a bit more formal in register than "thrifty"? I'm not sure if that's quite right.
    I don't see much of a difference between the two.

    I think you would describe a person's activities as economical; saying simply, "my wife is economical" sounds rather odd to me, though.
    You could easily say, "my wife is an economical shopper."
     

    rpleimann

    Senior Member
    USA English
    The first two are fine. "Frugal" might be a bit more formal in register than "thrifty"? I'm not sure if that's quite right.
    I don't see much of a difference between the two.
    I agree, I do not see much difference between them in that both describe someone who spends money wisely.
    However, I do have different mental images...
    A frugal person I see as someone who is constantly thinking about ways to save money in conservative ways, simply not spending unnecessarily.
    A thrifty person I see as someone creative in their methods of savings, perhaps recycling something for a use not originally intended.
    I have no basis for these opinions, other than that is the mental image that each inspires.
    I'm completely open to criticism and other opinions. :)
     

    pickarooney

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    For me thrifty is a positive adjective (or a euphemism) while frugal is a little less so. 'Thrifty' has a notion of living well (thriving) by spending wisely while 'frugal' is scraping by on a very tight budget. You don't necessarily need to be poorly off to be thrifty.

    Negative adjectives are far more common, however (English speaking countries tend to see the downside moreso than some others) and include miserly, tight, stingy, scroungy...

    I would never use 'economical' as a direct adjective for a person.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top