39

Is there a word or an idiom for rich people who spend only their families' money and do not bother to work, just fool around?

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    "Wastrel" is the first to come to mind. It's generally taken to mean someone who lives the high live off their inheritance while doing nothing productive (though the "official" definition is broader). – Hot Licks Apr 28 '15 at 22:11
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    I call them "income redistribution vectors." – Sven Yargs Apr 29 '15 at 6:46
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    I just call them bums. – Mr Lister Apr 29 '15 at 13:16
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    The old British slang of a "dandy" comes to mind - referring to the problematic youths of England using inherited money for wasteful and dangerous activities in the English countryside. It's the basis for the Mr. Toad character from "The Wind in the Willows" and the Disney short film "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride". – Zibbobz Apr 29 '15 at 19:46
  • 1
    At Mexico we call them "Juniors" – Victor Castillo Torres Apr 30 '15 at 3:03

14 Answers 14

59

They are known as "trust-fund babies" or "trust-fund kids":

from Dictionary.com:

noun: a child of wealthy parents or other relatives who can rely on a trust fund rather than hard work for a living

  • 21
    If they assume a counter-culture lifestyle there is "trustafarian", which I've always thought had a nice ring to it. – dmckee Apr 29 '15 at 0:27
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    @dmckee a nice ring... of smoke... gotta treat that glaucoma and stress of living up to mommy and daddies expectations after all – WernerCD Apr 29 '15 at 3:57
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    I looked up "gadabout", too, @PaulD.Waite, before posting my answer. They are habitual pleasure-seekers and have wanderlust for travel but it doesn't say anything about they're sponging off their parents' money. So in my interpretation, you can be a "gadabout" and not fill the OP's example qualifications. – Kristina Lopez Apr 29 '15 at 15:30
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    Good answer, Kristina. Amazingly (for such a popular phrase), I've never encountered it previously. – user98990 May 2 '15 at 19:24
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    I agree @HStephenStraight, but I don't really hear responsible offspring of the very wealthy called "trust fund babies". I think, maybe erroneously, that those of us without trust funds, assume that the offspring of the very wealthy must have trust funds, so that the name is used without actual knowledge of the source of their money, though it's probably fair to say that the source of their money is their family. – Kristina Lopez May 5 '15 at 22:58
34

Traditionally the most common (noun) terms for such a one would probably be a "prodigal" (as in the proverbial, Prodigal Son) or, alternately, a "profligate".

prodigal noun:

1. a person who spends money in a recklessly extravagant way.

• a person who leaves home and behaves recklessly, but later makes a repentant return.

noun: prodigal son

synonyms: wasteful, extravagant, spendthrift, profligate, improvident, imprudent; see Google prodigal

profligate noun:

1. a licentious, dissolute person. "he was an out-and-out profligate"

synonyms: libertine, debauchee, degenerate, dissolute, roué, rake, sybarite, voluptuary

see Google profligate

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    this was the first word that came to mind. great choice. – erich Apr 28 '15 at 22:51
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    Nice words, indeed, but none of them means: rich people who spend only their families' money. Jus' sayin'. – Jim Reynolds Apr 30 '15 at 6:14
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    Yes, I'm familiar. The term prodigal is often bound to son, but the primary meaning is not exactly "to spend one's family's money and not work, and to 'fool around'". The definitions for prodigal in dictionaries focus on wastefulness, lavishness, and of relating to the biblical parable, which itself focuses mainly on redemption, secondarily on foolish, extravagant spending of an inheritance given by a father to a son. I think it's interesting that, so far, no one has found a word or idiom expressing that precise meaning. – Jim Reynolds Apr 30 '15 at 7:58
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    I didn't mean to be as critical as I may have come across. I looked at all the answers so far, and I'm impressed that there seems to be no exact word or phrase to express what the OP says. Many readers see value in your answer, and as I sincerely wanted to say: nice words. I also think it's interesting that we don't have anything that is directly responsive. The key concept I get from the OP's words are about being parasitical and dependent. I don't think the concept of self-reliance or independence from family was common in Jewish culture 2,000 years ago! – Jim Reynolds Apr 30 '15 at 8:11
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    I like both of these words, @Ell. But what's interesting here, is that the OP never suggested that the person they wish to describe spends a lot of money or that the person necessarily spends money on "debased" things, as these words suggest. I suppose we don't know what the OP means by "just fools around". It could mean spends tons on (maybe) alcohol, drugs, behaves wildly and engages in vice, or alternatively, just plays computer games or lolls around watching TV. The most interesting thing to me is that it seems we have not found anything yet that captures the idea with just the right + – Jim Reynolds Apr 30 '15 at 14:57
24

Indeed there is: "spendthrift" is one, and "wastrel" another. The latter is archaic but I really like it. Derived from "waste", I guess, but pronounced with a short A not a diphthong. You don't have to be stinking rich to be these, though. And there is another archaic word for spending an inheritance etc. quickly and reprehensibly: "to blew". That's not the past tense it looks like, because the past is "he blewed it all". National Lottery please note. No noun that I know of, though.

If your emphasis is not on blewing the money but just being a rich layabout, then, well, Bertie Wooster was a member of "the Drones Club". I think the British "Hooray Henry" and "Sloane Ranger" might fit. The American equivalent would I think be "trust fund babe". (Of which the masculine is what? I don't know,) Less demotic is "the idle rich".

  • 3
    Do you have a source for that use of "blew"? I've heard "he blew it all" but not "he blewed it all". And it's not "trust fund babe", it's "trust fund baby" - though I'm sure some trust fund babies are babes! :-) Finally, "spendthrift" and "wastrel" are good words for someone who spends money foolishly, it doesn't really address that it's their family's money and that they don't work, just fool around. – Kristina Lopez Apr 28 '15 at 21:40
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    No doubt it's a memorable expression (and I also love H.G. Wells!) but the Oxford Dictionary is not finding it in either the US nor the BrE version so I suspect it's a slangy or dialect version of "he blew it". – Kristina Lopez Apr 28 '15 at 21:53
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    @Sumelic: I have seen it in the other tenses too. Invented example: "He is the sort who cannot be trusted not to blew anything he gets". But as Kristina pointed out, it might be dialect or early twencen slang, and as I agreed, Wells used plenty of both. What I don't accept is that he made it up out of whole cloth, or was ignorant of the language. – David Pugh Apr 29 '15 at 10:53
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    "Wastrel" is not pronounced with a short A, as a quick check of a dictionary would show. – mikeagg Apr 29 '15 at 15:56
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    Is spendthrift really an answer? It's someone who spends lots of money, but it's not necessarily inherited. – Barmar May 4 '15 at 18:41
16

Playboy:

noun

A wealthy man who spends his time enjoying himself, especially one who behaves irresponsibly or is sexually promiscuous:

ODO

Apparently the phenomenon is not chauvinistic as playgirl works for her:

n.
A usually wealthy woman who spends much of her time pursuing leisure and romance.

ODO

The popularity of Playboy Magazine (and its sister Playgirl) has reinforced the sexual connotations of this expression to the point of dominance, but everyone understand intuitively that casual sex can be a very expensive habit.

  • 14
    Someone can be a Playboy or Playgirl and not necessarily be spending their family's money as the OP's example states. – Kristina Lopez Apr 29 '15 at 3:20
12

I've always liked the term Trustafarian, a portmanteau (of trust and rastafarian) that can be somewhat limited in distribution to college campuses and the "hip" parts of town (and it is a term which can seen as a form of religious and cultural expropriation from the Rastafaris).

/ˌtrʌstəˈfɛərɪən/

noun

  1. (sometimes capital) ( Brit, informal) a young person from a wealthy background whose trust fund enables him or her to eschew conventional attitudes to work, dress, drug taking, etc

Word Origin C20: from trust (fund) + ( Rast) afarian

from dictionary.com

There's even a book The Trustafarian Handbook: A Field Guide to the Neo-Hippie Lifestyle - Funded by Mom and Dad | Amazon.com

  • 2
    I would assume a Trustafarian, like Rastafarians, was prone to smoking pot (and by extension, maybe doing other drugs), and not just spending money. – Peter Shor Apr 29 '15 at 13:33
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    And all this may explain the curious phenomenon of so many white frat boys obsessed with Bob Marley. – markratledge Apr 29 '15 at 17:12
  • This is somewhat demeaning to actual Rastas (which is a real religion) – MikeTheLiar Apr 29 '15 at 18:45
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    @mikeTheLiar: it demeaning and is a form of religious and cultural expropriation; that's my point. Rastafari is a real belief system which encompasses Christian thought. And Rastafarianism is a term not much appreciated by Rastafaris. – markratledge Apr 29 '15 at 19:28
8

Rake is not as overwhelmed with sexual connotations as playboy but it still:

rake 2
n.
A usually well-to-do man who is dissolute or promiscuous.

American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition.

It is the reduction of rakehell:

n.
An immoral or dissolute man.

American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition.

The etymology suggests it is someone racing to hell:

1540s, possibly an alteration (by association with rake (n.1) and Hell) of Middle English rakel (adj.) "hasty, rash, headstrong,"
probably from raken "to go, proceed,"
from Old English racian "to go forward, move, hasten," of unknown origin.
Compare rakeshame (n.) "one who lives shamefully" (1590s).

Etymonline.com

Although it is denoted as a man, it would welcome gender neutrality in our liberated libertine world.

  • relevant. – erich Apr 30 '15 at 1:43
  • Yeah, LOL! @erich – ScotM Apr 30 '15 at 1:49
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    Maybe this comes from excessive exposure to folk song, but the immediate association in mind from 'rake' or 'rakeishness' is of sexual promiscuity. Whereas a playboy is only incidentally so. – Dominic Cronin May 1 '15 at 15:27
  • It is interesting, @DominicCronin, how individual connotations of words can vary significantly--particularly words that are not terribly common. Which folk song would you be referring to? – ScotM May 1 '15 at 15:30
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    You probably guessed, my last comment got mangled by my telephone. I meant "rakishness". – Dominic Cronin May 2 '15 at 20:29
6

A dilettante is a dabbler in different subjects, usually the arts. The usage of dilettante peaked in American literature in the 1920's to the 1940's. This is because in those hard times a dabbler needed to be wealthy in order to have the luxury to avoid an onerous or practical occupation.

The word dilettante conjures up a mental picture of an idle, well-off person who has free time and can afford to shift focus from one notion to the next. Necessarily having great wealth isn't part of the dictionary definition of the word. However, I have almost always seen it used to describe rich or decadent people or goods.

There are quite a few wealthy individuals described as dilettante. Using Google Scholar, I identified quite a few. The implication is that the individuals' wealth permits this lifestyle.

A café using the word Dilettante to present as upscale is a modern example. "The Expression of Elegance." Indeed. They sell coffee.

The Dilettante is a pricey car in the video games Grand Theft Auto IV and V.

(I don't have the reputation to post more than 2 links or I would have more citations.)

5

In a somewhat restricted context, the term remittance man might apply. The term was used in former times (such as the Victorian era) to describe British men who lived abroad and whose income consisted of funds sent by their families.

While this does not necessarily imply that the remittance man was simply fooling around rather than trying to work, there is a connotation that the remittance men were being paid to stay far away from their families in order to avoid embarrassing them, e.g. by dissolute behavior.

The term is old-fashioned but could be used as a metaphor for a modern (and not necessarily British) lifestyle. I think the term remittance woman would be understood as a female form of the same term.

Since the original term described people who received income at someone else's discretion and who were kept socially distant from their wealthy families, I would find it difficult to apply to someone who had the unfettered ability to spend the wealth accumulated by their family or who was permitted to participate in the family's social circle. That is, I think that in order for the usage of the term to make sense, it would need to be more restrictive than the usage of terms such as playboy or idle rich. But in the right context I think it might be used with good effect.

4

The phrase I've heard is "idle rich".

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    Welcome to ELU! I like that suggestion; can you provide an example sentence and/or provide any links to show evidence of use? – erich Apr 30 '15 at 1:37
  • I've seen it mostly as a TV trope. Idle Rich – Boxtor May 1 '15 at 3:01
3

Dissolute would be a good adjective:

(Of a person or a way of life) overindulging in sensual pleasures:
unfortunately, his heir was feckless and dissolute

ODO

3

Freeloader is what came to mind immediately. Definitely negative connotations, and not necessarily required that the contributing family is rich.

2

How about "trust-fund squanderer"?

0

"rentier" -- "An individual who receives an income, usually interest, rent, dividends, capital gains, or profits from his or her assets and investments." (Wikipedia dictionary). Note that this is not necessarily from family money -- but it does have old money connotation. More importantly, if you insist on the "fooling around" part, "rentier" does not imply idleness or frivolity, it just specifies the source of income.

0

Woosterish

A Woosterish person behaves like the fictional character Bertie Wooster.

Bertram Wilberforce "Bertie" Wooster is a recurring fictional character in the Jeeves novels of British author P. G. Wodehouse. An English gentleman, one of the "idle rich" and a member of the Drones Club, he appears alongside his valet, Jeeves, whose genius manages to extricate Bertie or one of his friends from numerous awkward situations.

protected by Andrew Leach Apr 30 '15 at 11:51

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