Filming for Watchdog yesterday, we discussed using this word in what we were doing, but I was resolutely against it as I thought most people didn’t know what it meant. So to prove it we did a couple of experiments, the result being not only did people not know, but they actually thought it was the opposite of what it actually means.
- Experiment 1. We popped outside to the production team and asked three – two got it wrong.
- Experiment 2. I posted this question on my Facebook page, where a substantial number of people got it wrong too (there were 500+ posts so I haven’t calculated the exact number).
So what does it mean?
OK, so before reading on, answer the question out aloud yourself then scroll down to see if you got it right….
SCROLL DOWN FOR ANSWER
In fact a spendthrift is someone who…
“Spends money wastefully or recklessly – someone uninhibited about splashing the cash.”
I suspect it’s the ‘thrift’ bit of the word that makes people define it the other way round.
I’ve done a bit of digging on the web and it’s replaced the previous usage ‘scattergood’ or ‘spend-all’, yet in some ways I think they are less confusing words and maybe should come back – or perhaps the modern pop-culture word ‘spend-aholic’ is better. In the programme I just went for ‘spender’.
If anyone knows more about the history of the word and why it means what it does, do let me know.