It appears that frugal lifestyles may be rising in popularity … or at least the word that describes the people who espouse them: frugalista. In his NYT column On Language, William Safire names it his choice for 2008’s Word of the Year.
The New Oxford American Dictionary defines it as “a person who lives a frugal lifestyle but stays fashionable and healthy by swapping clothes, buying secondhand, growing own produce, etc.”.
Safire goes on to explain the linguistic context of the word. Most interesting to me were its roots:
The adjective frugal is rooted in the Latin for “fruits,” which in the 16th century some found relatively cheap. The word was at first applied to the careful apportionment of food, but Shakespeare in his 1598 “Merry Wives of Windsor” used it as a metaphor to mean “sparingly supplied; thrifty” of anything, as, “I was then Frugall of my mirth.”
In the 21st century, foraging the city streets for relatively cheap eats remains fashionable to city dwellers in search of a culinary escape from the mundane, and often proves fruitful for those willing to venture beyond their comfort zone.
Am I a frugalista? Are you?