Posted by ESC on November 16, 1999

In Reply to: Spendthrift posted by steve GOLDBY on November 16, 1999

: my colleague and I puzzled over this whilst attacking the third bottle. Why do two ostensibly opposite words combine to give meaning of extravagence?

The Oxford English Dictionary, under spendthrift, says "Cf. the earlier dingthrift." Under dingthrift, the first meaning, from the 1500s, is "spendthrift," but the second meaning for dingthrift is an obsolete game from the 1300s. (At least I think that's what it says. I have one of those compact OEDs and I can barely see it.) So I'm guessing that the game dingthrift gave rise to a name for someone who wastes money. Then at some point the word was corrupted or mispronounced so often that it became "spendthrift."