miser n : a stingy hoarder of money and possessions (often living miserably)
- Rhymes with: -aɪzə(r)
- big spender
a skinflint or scrooge
Adjectivemiser, f. misera, n. miserum
A miser is a person who is reluctant to spend money, sometimes to the point of forgoing even basic comforts. The term derives from the Latin miser, meaning "poor" or "wretched," comparable to the modern word "miserable".
Famous misers in history
- Earl Stevenson http://www.strictlyaloner.com retired Air Force TSgt. Lived in Plattsburgh, New York near the old Plattsburgh Air Force Base, New York and lived in rented rooms, hoarding useless items and scrimping to become a millionaire from stock market before he died.
- Ephraim Lópes Pereira d'Aguilar, 2nd Baron d'Aguilar - an eccentric nobleman.
- Andrew Carnegie - Scottish born American industrialist, was notoriously "thrifty" until his old age, when he endowed numerous charities, including the New York Public Library. He was infamous for tipping a dime for services rendered, especially when a much larger tip was appropriate.
- The Collyer brothers of New York City, who earned notoriety for living in a filthy, booby-trapped home.
- Hetty Green - Cortland miser - was considered the world's wealthiest woman in 1916.
- Joseph Nollekens - Londoner generally considered to be the finest British sculptor of the late 18th century, he was also a notorious miser.
- Gene Burd is a 76-year-old journalism professor at the University of Texas that walks seven miles per day round trip to and from work and has donated over a million dollars to an educational foundation. Mr. Burd was the subject of a front page story in the Austin American-Statesman on July 19, 2007 in which it chronicles his miserly ways. He has never married, holds his hand over his mouth when he speaks, has no automobile, lives in a small apartment, wears shoes he found in the trash, and picks up pennies to "pay his phone bill." He amassed a fortune on a modest salary due to his extremely frugal ways. http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/07/19/0719burd.html
- Charles Huffman was a miser from the 1950's in the U.S. He was found dead on a Brooklyn, New York street with no money in his pockets. The police traced him to a $7 per week room that was filled with bank books and more than $500,000 in stock certificates. He was characterized by Franz Lidz, in The New York Times, on October 26, 2003.
List of notable misers in fiction
- Ebenezer Balfour - Scottish, antagonist from Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
- C. Montgomery Burns - Scottish American, voiced by Harry Shearer in The Simpsons series
- Norbert Colon - British cartoon character from the adult-orientated comic Viz
- Milburn Drysdale - Scottish American, played by Raymond Bailey in The Beverly Hillbillies TV sitcom
- Henry Earlsforward - English, in Arnold Bennet's novel Riceyman Steps. (1923)
- Fagin - Jewish Londoner, antogonist from Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist
- Grandet - French, father of Eugenie Grandet, a novel by Balzac
- Harpagon - French, from Molière's play The Miser
- Eugene H. Krabs (aka Mr. Krabs) - Bikinian, voiced by Clancy Brown in SpongeBob SquarePants animations
- Leroy Lockhorn - American, of the syndicated daily comic strip, The Lockhorns.
- Plyushkin - Russian, character from Nikolai Gogol's novel Dead Souls
- The Baron - a character from Alexander Pushkin's drama The Miserly Knight, also The Covetous Knight, (Russian: Скупой рыцарь, Skupóy rïtsár)
- Pop - A bear from Happy Tree Friends.
- Silas Marner - English, George Eliot penname of Mary Ann Evans, character
- Scrooge McDuck - Scottish American, Walt Disney character voiced by Alan Young; named after Ebenezer Scrooge
- Trina McTeague - Swiss German American, wife of the brute McTeague in Frank Norris' novel
- Fred Mertz - American, played by William Frawley on I Love Lucy.
- Séraphin Poudrier - French Canadian, in the novel Un homme et son péché by Québecois author Claude-Henri Grignon
- Henry F. Potter - American, played by Lionel Barrymore in the film It's a Wonderful Life
- Ebenezer Scrooge - English, Charles Dickens character (erroneously based on the real-life Ebenezer Lennox Scroggie, who was not actually a miser)
- Shylock - Jewish Venetian, William Shakespeare character
- The Lady of Stavoren - Dutch, local legend
- James Tyrone - Irish, from the play Long Day's Journey Into Night by Eugene O'Neill
- Vladek - Jewish mouse, from the graphic novel Maus by Art Spiegelman
- Horrid Henry by Francesca Simon.
- Mr. Briggs - one of the title character's guardians in Cecilia by Frances Burney.
- Heat Miser - The controller of hot weather in Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer
- Snow Miser - The controller of cold weather in Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer
StereotypesThe stereotype of the miser is a wealthy, greedy man who lives miserably in order to save and increase his treasure. Other stereotypes are the "thrifty" Scotsmen and the "frugal" Dutch.
A related stereotype is the capitalist as portrayed in, for example, Soviet propaganda. Both are usually moneylenders or industrialists, in any case businessmen, who possess great personal wealth but aren't bothered by the fate of the poor. The difference is that, unlike the miser, the capitalist does spend his money and is typically portrayed leading a decadent life. Anti-Semites have portrayed Jews both as misers and/or capitalists.
The motivation for miserliness or avarice can be a strong desire to gain, especially in money or power. Psychoanalytic explanations, e.g. in the tradition of Sigmund Freud, link it to experiences in early childhood in the anal phase within the concept of psychosexual development.
1. "Burd's Eye View" Austin American Statesman, July 19, 2007. Page A1.
miser in German: Geiz
miser in Spanish: Avaro
miser in Croatian: Motiv škrtca
miser in Malay (macrolanguage): Bakhil
miser in Dutch: Vrek
Silas Marner, accumulator, bill collector, cheapskate, churl, collection agent, collector, connoisseur, curmudgeon, douanier, dunner, exciseman, farmer, gatherer, glutton, hog, magpie, muckworm, niggard, pack rat, penny pincher, pig, piker, pinchfist, pinchgut, pinchpenny, save-all, scrooge, skin, skinflint, stiff, tax collector, tightwad