By Deane Barker

Definition: someone who is very reluctant to spend money

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary:

literally “kind of person who would skin a flint to save or gain something”

This supposedly comes from a 1656 poem called The Legend of Captain Jones. From Word Histories:

This were but petty hardship, Jones was one
Would Skinne a Flint, and eat him when h’had done.

Wikitionary says this:

From the phrase skin a flint (“go to extreme lengths for the sake of gain or economy”), from the brittleness and hardness of flint which makes it almost impossible to remove just its skin without shattering it.

A flint is a rock used to start fires. I’m fuzzy on how someone would “skin” one, I guess.

Why I Looked It Up

From Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness:

A well-known skinflint, [Benjamin] Franklin calculated that thousands of pounds of candle wax could be saved with his idea.

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