I'm looking for a single word for describing a person "whose motive is dictated by money"...I seem to recall there was an elegant word for this, but I can't remember it now...can someone help?

  • Wow...I certainly didn't expect to be inundated with so many good answers !! Makes it hard for me to choose only one out of all these :( - but I've upvoted all the ones which were useful to me !!
    – TCSGrad
    Apr 5, 2011 at 6:15

15 Answers 15


Mercenary comes to mind
But there are more:

acquisitive, avaricious, bribable, corrupt, covetous, grabby, grasping, miserly, money-grubbing, selfish, sordid, stingy, unethical, unprincipled, unscrupulous, venal

  • 5
    'venal', 'avaricious' sound like what is really sought.
    – Mitch
    Apr 3, 2011 at 15:05
  • Althoug money-grubbing isn't a single word.
    – zneak
    Apr 3, 2011 at 16:44
  • Nor "elegant," but my favorite too. Apr 4, 2011 at 4:12


Etymology: < Middle French pécunieux (c1370 as peccunieux in sense 1, 1498 as pecunieulx (plural) in the passage translated in quot. 1509 at sense 2; French pécunieux, now rare) and its etymon classical Latin pecūniōsus well provided with money, moneyed < pecūnia money (see pecunial adj.) + -ōsus -ous suffix.

The negative impecunious adj. is much more used.

  1. Well provided with money; moneyed, wealthy.
  2. Money-loving, avaricious; miserly, ungenerous; (also) frugal, thrifty.
  • Ah, I saw the first version so I did not include it
    – mplungjan
    Apr 3, 2011 at 19:17

"stingy" or "miserly" might be appropriate if the context refers to a motive not to spend money.

I'd use "greedy" if the motive was to acquire more money when the individual was already rich (and clearly didn't need the money).

"mercenary" would perhaps be better if the person was doing something only for the purpose of money, and not caring about other consequences.


Materialistic describes a person who is markedly more concerned with material things (such as money and possessions)


Perhaps chrematistic is the word you have in mind; I've heard it used this way although I don't think it's strictly correct. See http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/chrematistic?qsrc=2446


How about just plain greedy? They say the love of money is the root of all evil.


I can't tell whether you are talking about a person who tries to save money or to earn/acquire it.

If you are after the former, then some great examples have already been given:

Thrifty, Miserly, Parsimonious and I would also suggest frugal as a slightly less negative option.

If you want the latter, I would suggest avaricious.

Almost everything I can think of seems to have negative connotation, so if you are trying to sound positive, you might need to use a word like ambitious or enterprising, which are not really dedicated to the money element, but do hint at it.


While 'pecunious' suggested by @tchrist sounds like the most technically accurate, in casual conversation the terms:

  • 'penny pincher', for someone always checking they don't overspend; or
  • 'bean counter', for someone always concerned with amounts of money spent or available to be spent; or
  • 'scrooge', for someone who goes to great lengths to avoid even fair expenses,

may well be what you're after.


Mercenary, grasping, venal and other synonyms already suggested are good, but they all are derogatory. If you want to put a neutral or positive spin on it, I would rather suggest money-oriented or money-driven.

  • or maybe thrifty?
    – gpr
    Apr 3, 2011 at 12:28

I just realised the word you are trying to think of: avarice, the kind of word that is used in the Bible and by 19th century street-corner preachers.

A person whose every action is dictated by money is thus avaricious.


You may be looking for parsimonious or its more obsessive cousin, miserly.


A positive take on one whose motivation is to save money is to call them economical.

(of a person or lifestyle) careful not to waste money or resources.



  • 1
    You can link your word to an online definition that supports your answer and avoid needing to type extra characters. Apr 3, 2011 at 14:07

A single word for a person whose motive is dictated by money would be greed or greedy but that is a description of the person. What about a curmudgeon meaning a miserly cantankerous person?

Or a more positive take on the question like someone had offered up above (ie economical) would be frugal - to be good with one's resources.

  • I was about to comment that curmudgeon doesn't mean miserly, but apparently it does. OED has "‘An avaricious churlish fellow; a miser, a niggard’ (Johnson)." Most usage I've seen majors on the cantankerous/churlish part.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jun 7, 2013 at 9:17

moolah python ; paisa pig ; dabbudabba

  • A good answer should provide an explanation, plus external links are encouraged (such as links to dictionary definitions in the case of a word request).
    – MetaEd
    Aug 6, 2013 at 15:42

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