1. Rashly or wastefully extravagant: prodigal expenditures on unneeded weaponry; a prodigal nephew who squandered his inheritance.
2. Giving or given in abundance; lavish or profuse: "the infinite number of organic beings with which the sea of the tropics, so prodigal of life, teems" (Charles Darwin). See Synonyms at profuse.
One who is given to wasteful luxury or extravagance.
[Late Middle English, probably back-formation from Middle English prodigalite, from Old French, from Late Latin prōdigālitās, from Latin prōdigus, prodigal, from prōdigere, to drive away, squander : prōd-, prō-, for, forth; see PROUD + agere, to drive; see ag- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
prod′i·gali·ty (-gălĭ-tē) n.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.