What does Skinflint mean?

When it comes to the meaning of the term Skinflint, it is often used to describe an individual who is notoriously stingy with their money.

This person is often willing to go to great lengths to save, amass, and extort their wealth, even if it means depriving themselves or others of basic necessities.

The term “Skinflint” is derived from the idea that a miser would be willing to skin a piece of flint stone for a dollar. This clever play on words highlights the extreme measures that a skinflint is willing to take in order to hoard their wealth.

Alternatively, “Skinflint” may be also understood, that the person is just as cold and hard, as a flint.

While the term may seem humorous, it is often used in a derogatory manner to describe someone who is seen as greedy or selfish.


What's the origin of Skinflint?

“Skinflint” has its roots in an earlier slang term, Flay-Flint, which was commonly used in the 1670s. Over time, Flay-Flint fell out of favor and was replaced by the more streamlined “Skinflint” in the 1700s.

Notably, Charles Dickes also likens Ebenezer Scrooge, his protagonist from “A Christmas Carol” to a flint, although he doesn’t explicitly describe him as a “Skinflint.” This, however, illustrates the popularity of the expression during the 19th century.




Spread & Usage

How did Skinflint spread?

“Skinflint” was a popular slang expression in the 18th century, and was widely used well into the 1900s.

It appeared in journals, as well as literary works in the 1700s and 1800s, and was often used to refer to characters who resemble Ebenezer Scrooge from “A Christmas Carol.”

Despite this, “Skinflint” began falling out of favor in the 20th century, and today it is considered somewhat archaic. However, it may still be encountered in various contexts, even today.

So, if you want to spice up your vocabulary, referring to friends, who are overly materialistic, feel free to use “Skinflint”!

External resources

Grammarist – Skinflint

Etymonline – Skinflint


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