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Lavish vs. Frugal: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on October 12, 2023
"Lavish" describes abundance or extravagance, while "Frugal" denotes simplicity and economy in spending or use.

Key Differences

At the heart of the terms Lavish and Frugal lies the concept of expenditure and consumption. Lavish typically embodies abundance, luxury, or even excessiveness in spending or usage. On the opposite spectrum, Frugal represents economy, careful use of resources, and often, minimalism.
In societal contexts, a Lavish lifestyle might involve grand parties, opulent homes, and frequent indulgences without concern for cost. A Frugal lifestyle, contrastingly, emphasizes saving, being resourceful, and avoiding unnecessary expenses. Such a person might prioritize needs over wants and seek value in purchases.
The terms Lavish and Frugal can also be applied to non-monetary scenarios. For instance, one might use words Lavishly in a verbose manner, whereas another might be Frugal with words, opting for brevity. Here, Lavishness denotes abundance in expression, and Frugality signifies restraint.
Describing events, a Lavish ceremony could feature elaborate decorations, extensive guest lists, and gourmet food. Conversely, a Frugal event might prioritize essentials, forgoing extravagances, keeping things simple and cost-effective.
Lavish and Frugal are, in essence, polar opposites when discussing allocation or use of resources, be it time, money, or even emotions. Where Lavish goes big, bold, and often beyond necessity, Frugal stays restrained, resourceful, and reasoned.

Comparison Chart


Abundant or extravagant
Economical in spending or use

Associated with

Luxury, excessiveness
Simplicity, thriftiness

Usage in context

Often indicates opulence
Indicates careful use of resources

Typical behavior

Spending without much concern
Prioritizing needs over wants

Resource allocation

More is better
Less is more

Lavish and Frugal Definitions


Immoderate in giving or bestowing.
She received lavish praise for her performance.


Characterized by economy in expenditure.
He lived a frugal life, saving most of his income.


Marked by excess.
He led a lavish lifestyle with numerous vacations.


Reflecting careful use of resources.
Her frugal meal consisted of basic essentials.


Having a rich or expensive quality.
The hotel offered lavish accommodations.


Not wasteful.
Being frugal, he always repaired instead of replacing.


Characterized by or produced with extravagance and profusion
A lavish buffet.


Simple and plain.
She wore frugal clothes, avoiding flashy brands.


Immoderate in giving or bestowing; unstinting
The critics were lavish with their praise.


Practicing or marked by economy, as in the expenditure of money or the use of material resources.


To give or bestow in abundance; shower
Lavished attention on his customers.


Simple or costing little; meager or inexpensive
A frugal lunch.


To give something in abundance to
"The aides began lavishing him with kindnesses" (Kay Marie Porterfield).


Avoiding unnecessary expenditure either of money or of anything else which is to be used or consumed; avoiding waste.
Frugal advice


Expending or bestowing profusely; profuse; prodigal.
Lavish of money;
Lavish of praise


Economical in the use or appropriation of resources; not wasteful or lavish; wise in the expenditure or application of force, materials, time, etc.; characterized by frugality; sparing; economical; saving; as, a frugal housekeeper; frugal of time.
I oft admireHow Nature, wise and frugal, could commitSuch disproportions.


Superabundant; excessive.
Lavish spirits
Lavish meal


Obtained by, or appropriate to, economy; as, a frugal fortune.


(obsolete) Unrestrained, impetuous.


Avoiding waste;
An economical meal
An economical shopper
A frugal farmer
A frugal lunch
A sparing father and a spending son
Sparing in their use of heat and light
Stinting in bestowing gifts
Thrifty because they remember the great Depression
`scotch' is used only informally


(transitive) To give out extremely generously; to squander.
They lavished money on the dinner.


Cost-effective and economical.
Their frugal approach helped them retire early.


(transitive) To give out to (somebody) extremely generously.
They lavished him with praise.


(obsolete) Excessive abundance or expenditure, profusion, prodigality.


Expending or bestowing profusely; profuse; prodigal; as, lavish of money; lavish of praise.


Superabundant; excessive; as, lavish spirits.
Let her have needful, but not lavish, means.


To expend or bestow with profusion; to use with prodigality; to squander; as, to lavish money or praise.


Expend profusely; also used with abstract nouns;
He was showered with praise


Very generous;
Distributed gifts with a lavish hand
The critics were lavish in their praise
A munificent gift
His father gave him a half-dollar and his mother a quarter and he thought them munificent
Prodigal praise
Unsparing generosity
His unstinted devotion
Called for unstinting aid to Britain


Characterized by extravagance and profusion;
A lavish buffet
A lucullan feast


Expended in abundance.
He threw a lavish party for his daughter's wedding.


Given without restraint.
She had a lavish hand when it came to charity.


Do Lavish and Frugal represent similar concepts?

No, Lavish implies extravagance, while Frugal suggests economy.

Is Frugal the same as cheap?

No, Frugal implies wise spending, whereas cheap might imply low quality.

Does Lavish always indicate wastefulness?

Not necessarily, but it often implies an abundance or excess.

Can a person be both Lavish and Frugal at different times?

Yes, someone can be Lavish on certain occasions and Frugal on others.

Are Lavish homes always big?

Not always. A small home can be lavish if it's decorated opulently or has luxurious amenities.

Is being Frugal always beneficial?

Generally, it's seen as financially wise, but excessive frugality can lead to missed experiences.

Does being Frugal mean living without luxury?

Often, yes. Frugality emphasizes needs and value over luxury.

How does society view Lavish and Frugal behaviors?

Views vary, but Lavishness might be seen as ostentatious while Frugality as wise or, at times, overly cautious.

Are Lavish gifts always expensive?

Often they are, but "Lavish" can also refer to the thoughtfulness, time, or effort involved.

How can one practice Frugal living?

By budgeting, seeking value in purchases, and prioritizing needs over wants.

Can a celebration be both Lavish and Frugal?

It's unlikely, as the terms are opposites, but one could have lavish elements in a generally frugal event.

Is Frugal living the same as minimalist living?

They're related but not the same. Frugality is about economical use, while minimalism focuses on having fewer possessions.

What's a common misconception about Frugal people?

That they're stingy or don't enjoy life, when they might just prioritize long-term value.

How is Lavish used in literature?

Lavish is often used to describe grand settings, abundant emotions, or opulent lifestyles.

Can a Lavish lifestyle lead to financial problems?

If unchecked, yes. Excessive spending without means can lead to debt.

Can one be Lavish in love but Frugal in spending?

Absolutely. One can be generous with emotions but economical with money.

Can Lavishness ever be a virtue?

In contexts like hospitality or generosity, being Lavish can be seen positively.

Can businesses operate on Lavish principles?

Some luxury brands or high-end services operate on delivering Lavish experiences to clients.

Can a Frugal person enjoy vacations?

Yes, they might just opt for budget-friendly or value-driven travel options.

Are there any downsides to a Frugal lifestyle?

If taken to an extreme, one might miss out on experiences or be perceived as stingy.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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