I consider myself to be this type of person. A search did not yield anything, but I did find this website. What is the word you use to describe someone who does not like excess, in the sense of quantity of material possesions and / or in purchasing something more expensive because it has a couple of extra features that are not really needed?

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    Perhaps reasonable or rational. – Graffito Apr 27 '16 at 15:48
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    Temperate or moderate seem to suit. – The Nate Apr 27 '16 at 16:56
  • There's another website you might want to check out: wordhippo.com. If you need a synonym or antonym for a given word, go there and simply type the word in and ask for either one. You'll get, usually, a bunch of either. For example, given your question I might ask the wordhippo for an antonym for "materialistic." don – rhetorician Apr 27 '16 at 17:46
  • That would be a true "conservative". However, they're scarcer than hens' teeth. – Hot Licks Apr 27 '16 at 18:13
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    Do you mean not liking excess in a normal way, or not liking any bit of excess above the essentials for survival? – 200_success Apr 27 '16 at 18:50

13 Answers 13


prudent - wise or judicious

frugal - requiring few resources

discreet - showing prudence and circumspection

economical - avoiding waste or extravagance

practical - suitable for a particular purpose

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  • 1
    +1 for "frugal". That was the first word I thought of based on OP's description. – punkrockbuddyholly Apr 28 '16 at 14:56
  • Could you add dictionary definitions for each of these? – Fund Monica's Lawsuit Apr 28 '16 at 22:36

It sounds like being a minimalist to me, although some folks might confuse it with minimalism in art or music.

What is minimalism? If we had to sum it up in a single sentence, we would say, Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.

The "Minimalist" disambiguation page on Wikipedia has an entry that points to Simple Living and explains that 'Simple living encompasses a number of different voluntary practices to simplify one's lifestyle. These may include reducing one's possessions, generally referred to as Minimalism...'

There seems to be a lot of variation in what might specifically constitute a minimalist life style, but I think that context will make it less ambiguous.

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  • I was leaning toward this too but there just isn't a definition that backs it up. – ruby_newbie Apr 27 '16 at 22:57
  • Yes, I don't think this sense of the word has made it into the dictionaries yet, and I think there is a lot of variation among what folks understand it to mean precisely, but I think I would understand the gist if someone told me "I'm a minimalist" in a particular context. If you search for 'minimalist lifestyle' usage seems pretty widespread. @ruby_newbie – ColleenV Apr 27 '16 at 23:02

In addition to Rayner's suggestions, there are

  • parsimonious (avoiding excess)
  • stingy (ungenerous)
  • miserly (inclined to hoard money)
  • Spartan (characterized by self-denial)

Stingy and miserly are pejorative. Spartan might evince a degree of admiration. Parsimonious is purely technical, a neutral evaluation. A solution to a problem might be described as parsimonious, if it is the simplest possible answer.

There are many others.

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  • Worth noting that stingy and miserly, at least, have negative connotations. As with all connotations, tone of voice can affect it, but in general, if you're calling someone stingy, you're saying they're too cheap, rather than simply frugal. – Fund Monica's Lawsuit Apr 28 '16 at 22:38
  • In British English, and in my experience, 'parsimonious' would generally be regarded as having a negative connotation; pretty much identical to 'miserly' or 'stingy' in that it would refer to carefulness in outlay of money rather than the nature of what the money bought., – Spagirl Apr 29 '16 at 9:50
  • @Spagirl -- good to know. Maybe it's because I am in a technical industry; whenever I hear "parsimonious", it's to describe something that uses no more resources than necessary. On the other hand, we use "greedy" and "lazy" in purely descriptive, non-perjorative ways too. – Malvolio Apr 29 '16 at 16:44

The term ascetic comes to mind:

characterized by or suggesting the practice of severe self-discipline and abstention from all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons.

  • "an ascetic life of prayer, fasting, and manual labor"

  • synonyms: austere, self-denying, abstinent, abstemious, self-disciplined, self-abnegating; simple, puritanical, monastic; reclusive, eremitic, hermitic; celibate, chaste

  • "an ascetic life"

a person who practices severe self-discipline and abstention.

  • synonyms: abstainer, puritan, recluse, hermit, anchorite, solitary; fakir, Sufi, dervish, sadhu; archaiceremite

  • "a desert ascetic"

(I just saw this term in a comment on this question.)

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If you feel excess is a bit unethical, then self disciplined would work.

If the issue is monetary, then frugal or shrewd would work.

If you find excess in bad taste, then unostentatious would work.

In general, you are a sensible person.

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  • +1 for distinguishing the various connotations to narrow down to what the OP might need – wedstrom Apr 28 '16 at 16:12

One could say that this person is not materialistic, or they may be moderating. You could find antonyms for materialistic/greedy. For example:

I am not a very materialistic person.

I am a moderating person.

You could also say something that states that it is easier for you to restrain yourself(abstemious). Thrifty might also be an acceptable term.

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    "Moderating"? I have never heard it used this way. As it has a lot of other meanings, I would avoid it. – Malvolio Apr 27 '16 at 15:42
  • I see, upon looking back, I see my mistake. Thanks! – Ethan Leyden Apr 27 '16 at 15:45
  • All things in moderation. – Rayner Apr 27 '16 at 15:55
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    @Rayner right, it's just the wrong word form; here it would just be a "moderate" person, rather than a "moderating" person, with the difference being nature versus action or role. – pydsigner Apr 28 '16 at 15:54

I like the word content (or contented), meaning satisfied with what one has. Contented people are grateful for what they have; they are not acquisitive, envious, or discontented because they think they do not have enough stuff, or stuff that is the "latest and greatest."

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From the free dictionary

adjective: moderate or sparing

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At the more extreme end you might call them an ascetic.

From the Free Dictionary... Noun: A person who renounces material comforts and leads a life of austere self-discipline, especially as an act of religious devotion.

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Unextravagant. That is, the opposite of extravagant:


  1. spending much more than is necessary or wise; wasteful: an extravagant shopper.

  2. excessively high: extravagant expenses; extravagant prices.

  3. exceeding the bounds of reason, as actions, demands, opinions, or passions.
  4. going beyond what is deserved or justifiable: extravagant praise.
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Another word you may consider is sparing. Here is the explanation given by the free dictionary:

sparing adj. 1. Given to or marked by prudence and restraint in the use of material resources. Synonyms: sparing, frugal, thrifty, economical

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I suggest temperate, sense 2

From https://www.google.com/search?q=temperate&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

adjective: temperate

    of, relating to, or denoting a region or climate characterized by mild temperatures.
    synonyms:   mild, clement, benign, gentle, balmy
    "temperate climates"
    antonyms:   extreme
    showing moderation or self-restraint.
    "Charles was temperate in his consumption of both food and drink"
    synonyms:   self-restrained, restrained, moderate, self-controlled, disciplined; More
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: given to or marked by extreme stinting frugality.


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