Also found in: Thesaurus.
Related to improvidence: misattributed


1. Not providing for the future; thriftless.
2. Rash; incautious.

im·prov′i·dence n.
im·prov′i·dent·ly adv.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.



butter-and-egg man See OAFISHNESS.

butter one’s bread on both sides To be wasteful or extravagant; also, to gain favor from two sides at once, to work both sides of the street. The two different figurative meanings of this expression, which dates from 1821, neatly express the two sides of the single literal action to which it refers, i.e., unnecessary indulgence and prudent foresight.

from hand to mouth See PRECARIOUS-NESS.

pay too dearly for one’s whistle See COST.

penny wise and pound foolish Said of a person who is prudent or thrifty in small or trivial matters but careless in large or important ones. This expression, with its obvious implications, refers to two denominations of British money, the penny and the pound.

play ducks and drakes with To waste or squander, to spend foolishly or recklessly; also to make ducks and drakes of; usually in reference to money or time.

His Majesty’s Government never intended to give over the British army to the Governors of this Kingdom to make ducks and drakes with. (Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, Dispatches, 1810)

Ducks and drakes is the name of a game or pastime which consists of skipping flat, smooth stones across the surface of water. Thus, to play ducks and drakes with one’s money is to throw it away, as if using coins instead of stones. Also, to spend one’s time playing ducks and drakes is to waste one’s time in idle pleasure. Use of the expression dates from at least 1600.

scattergood A spendthrift, squanderer, profligate; a big spender. This term is a combination of scatter ‘to throw loosely about’ and good[s] ‘valuables.’

You have heard what careless scattergoods all honest sailors are. (Richard Blackmore, Tommy Upmore, 1884)

send the helve after the hatchet To be reckless; to throw away what remains because the losses have been so great; to send good money after bad; also throw the helve after the hatchet The allusion is to the fable of the woodcutter who lost the head of his ax in a river, and then, in disgust, threw the helve, or handle, in after it. John Heywood used the phrase in a collection of proverbs published in 1546.

spare at the spigot and spill at the bung To be frugal in inconsequential matters while being wasteful in important affairs. This expression alludes to the foolishness of a person who halts the outflow of a cask at the spigot while allowing the orifice through which the cask is replenished to remain open. The saying, synonymous with the common phrase penny wise and pound foolish, is now virtually obsolete.

spend money like a drunken sailor To spend money extravagantly or foolishly, to throw money away. This self-evident expression enjoys widespread popular use.

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.improvidence - a lack of prudence and care by someone in the management of resources
imprudence - a lack of caution in practical affairs
prodigality, profligacy, extravagance - the trait of spending extravagantly
thriftlessness, wastefulness, waste - the trait of wasting resources; "a life characterized by thriftlessness and waste"; "the wastefulness of missed opportunities"
providence - the prudence and care exercised by someone in the management of resources
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


[ɪmˈprɒvɪdəns] Nimprevisión f
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


nmangelnde Vorsorge (of für), Sorglosigkeit f (→ of in Bezug auf +acc)
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[ɪmˈprɒvidns] n (frm) → imprevidenza
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995
References in classic literature ?
Yes, you have betrayed our friendship, Makar Alexievitch, in that you have not been open with me; and, now that I see that your last coin has been spent upon dresses and bon-bons and excursions and books and visits to the theatre for me, I weep bitter tears for my unpardonable improvidence in having accepted these things without giving so much as a thought to your welfare.
The security of all would thus be subjected to the parsimony, improvidence, or inability of a part.
Here was another illustration of the childlike improvidence of this age and people.
The fact is, then, Senor Don Quixote, that though you see me seated in this chair, here in the middle of the kingdom of Aragon, and in the attire of a despised outcast duenna, I am from the Asturias of Oviedo, and of a family with which many of the best of the province are connected by blood; but my untoward fate and the improvidence of my parents, who, I know not how, were unseasonably reduced to poverty, brought me to the court of Madrid, where as a provision and to avoid greater misfortunes, my parents placed me as seamstress in the service of a lady of quality, and I would have you know that for hemming and sewing I have never been surpassed by any all my life.
I bitterly repented our improvidence in not providing ourselves, as we easily might have done, with a supply of biscuits.
But even if the rent is not mended, perhaps the worst vice betrayed is improvidence. I sometimes try my acquaintances by such tests as this -- Who could wear a patch, or two extra seams only, over the knee?
She kept them secret from her father, whose improvidence was the cause of much of her misery.
"But that may be the result of drunkenness, improvidence, or--"
The ignorance of the first principles of political economy on the part of these people; their improvidence; their wickedness; is, by Heavens!
The loadings on Factor 1 suggests a dimension of variation that is conceptually quite coherent; in the absence of both a deep approach (DA) and intrinsic motivation (IM), there is a manifestation of perceptions of a heavy workload (WL) and disorganized studying (DS) in the absence of an organizing principle with which to deal with new information (fragmentation: FA), with an added weak qualification in terms of over reliance on factual detail (improvidence: IP).
By organizing "wholesome" entertainments, auxiliary wives encouraged husbands to spend their recreational time with the families where women could maintain a watchful eye and steadying hand on men who otherwise might backslide into intemperance and improvidence. As a "A Switchman's Wife" explained in the Switchmen's Journal in 1887: "Our aim is to get our husbands and ourselves together so that we can spend an evening once in a while in a more profitable way than for them to go to town and get a little too much strong drink." (63) The auxiliaries, along with the railroad brotherhoods, provided railroaders with the opportunity to consort with the temperance-minded, learn to live and work without liquor, and behave like respectable men.
Insolence, anarchy, improvidence, and shamelessness are brought back from exile in colorful array with garlands crowning their heads.

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