Frugal is yet another English word made up by Shakespeare. Well, he didn't make it up, per se, as much as use it for the first time in English (in Much Ado About Nothing). He got it, through Middle French frugal, from the Latin word frugalis, which meant "thrifty", not unlike today. Then it gets weird: frugalis is from the previous Latin word frux, which meant "fruit" but had several layers of figurative speech: it also meant "produce", as in producing fruits through hard work, and it also meant "success", because producing fruits was successful. However, one who is successful saves one's money, which is how we got landed with frugalis. Frux is from the Proto-Indo-European root bhruhg, which also meant "fruit" but could additionally mean "enjoy", under the premise that people enjoy fruits. I know, it's a quagmire. Also, since I'll never get a chance like this again, I'd like to point out that the word frugivore, meaning "a person who eats fruits" has its stem, frugi-, also trace to frux. Now you know!
Adam Aleksic is a 220-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard College in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd