Character Trait Thesaurus Entry: Stingy

Definition: not generous; sparing or scant in using, giving, or spending

Characters in Literature and Culture: Ebenezer Scrooge, the Grinch, Mr. Burns (the Simpsons)

Common Portrayals: business owners, factory foremen, the elderly, bankers, feudal landowners, eccentrics

Clichés to Avoid: the crackpot miser with money stuffed in his mattress and buried in the backyard, the skinflint boss who fleeces his employees, the gajillionaire who lives in squalor because he won’t spend even a nickel on basic necessities

Twists on the Traditional Stingy Character:  

▪ People are usually stingy due to basic greed. Instead, give your stingy character an empathetic reason to be the way he is.

▪ Stinginess is a negative, no doubt about it. What circumstances could you create in your world that would make stinginess a positive trait?

▪ Because it’s such a bad trait, a stingy hero will usually be cured of it by the end of a novel. But what if being stingy is necessary to achieving the hero’s goal? What if he has to hold onto it in order to succeed, or better yet, to save others?


This sample, along with the rest of the character trait entries, has been expanded into book form! Together, THE NEGATIVE TRAIT THESAURUS: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO CHARACTER FLAWS and THE POSITIVE TRAIT THESAURUS: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO CHARACTER ATTRIBUTES contain over 200 traits for you to choose from when creating unique, memorable characters. Each entry contains possible causes for the trait, as well as positive and negative aspects, traits in supporting characters that may cause conflict, and associated behaviors, attitudes, thoughts, and emotions. For more information on this bestselling book and where it can be found, please visit our bookstore.

Love working online and having your favorite description resources in one place? We’ve got you covered. The entries from the Negative Trait Thesaurus book have been integrated into our online library at One Stop For Writers. Now you can search and cross-reference between all our thesaurus collections quickly and easily. Interested in viewing a free sample? Register at One Stop and see all that this intuitive library for writers has to offer.

Thesaurus Pair


Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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8 years ago

Perfect entry for this time of year! 🙂

8 years ago

I love the idea of giving stingy and empathetic reason! That is awesome! And what a perfect one to choose to feature this month. 🙂

Matthew MacNish
8 years ago

I should probably be a little stingier myself.

Becca Puglisi
8 years ago

It’s not often you can squeeze the Grinch into a blog post, but this was the perfect opportunity ;).

Welcome, Ann! Glad you found us!

Jemi Fraser
8 years ago

Love, love, LOVE the Grinch! Great choice for this trait! 🙂

Angela Ackerman
8 years ago

Great pick, Becca. Love the Grinch–he’s a perfect example of how this trait can be twisted to give us something unique!

Cozy in Texas
8 years ago

I found your lovely blog today.

Michael Offutt, Expert Critic

On Big Bang Theory, Sheldon gave a brief monologue as to the virtues of the Grinch. It was really funny.

8 years ago

Love that picture of the Grinch.

“give your Stingy an empathetic reason to be the way he is.”

I can tell you that, growing up, I did not have a lot of money at my disposal, so I was often stingy, and it left me feeling sort of guilty and uncomfortable, or, if I was out with friends, I’d be the one buying the cheapest meal at the diner.

Traci Kenworth
8 years ago

My all-time favorite Christmas story!! The tale of how the Grinch goes from stingy to loving and giving. I think it still teaches us today not to be such a way when it comes to the season, or life. Great blog!!