penny pincher

Definition: A stingy, miserly person.

Example: Norbert was such a penny-pincher, he charged his houseguests a fee to visit the toilet.

alternatively can be used as a verb: ‘penny pinching’


Not much is known of penny pincher’s roots, though it appears to have started in America in the mid-nineteenth century. It was probably from the simple imagery of somebody clutching a penny between their thumb and forefinger as they removed it from a coin purse.

Iddy would like to take the opportunity to address a related slur, that the Scottish are penny-pinchers. How did this misnomer come about? Iddy’s own experiences are quite the opposite. In fact, his first hangover was the direct result of a Scotsman insisting on buying him beers in an Edinburgh pub.

It’s all the fault of religion. No, not the drinking. The Scottish slur.

In the mid-nineteenth century, the Church of Scotland fractured into several smaller churches. This left many of them without wealthy patrons or landowners, and funding their costs became problematic. A difficult decision had to be made to ensure these churches’ survival. The parishioners would have to pay when they came to service. To enforce this, someone would be stationed at the entrance to collect. No payment. No entry. Visiting Church of England worshippers were scandalised. Church of Englanders apparently have long memories.

The stereotype still sticks to the unfortunate Scots today.

1 Response

  1. Of much earlier origin, as it was first recorded in Thomas Dekker’s play The Shoemaker’s Holiday of 1600: “Let wine be plentiful as beere, and beere as water, hang these penny pinching fathers.”

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