A spendthrift (also called profligate) is someone who spends money prodigiously and who is extravagant and recklessly wasteful, often to a point where the spending climbs well beyond his or her means. The word derives from an obsolete sense of the word "thrift" to mean prosperity rather than frugality, so that a "spendthrift" is one who has spent their prosperity.
While the pair of words may seem to imply the opposite of its meaning (as if you are thrifty in your spending), it follows the tradition of the earlier word "scattergood", the first part being an undoing of the second.
The modern legal remedy for spendthrifts is usually bankruptcy. However, during the 19th and 20th centuries, a few jurisdictions, such as the U.S. states of Oregon and Massachusetts, experimented with laws under which the family of such a person could have him legally declared a "spendthrift" by a court of law. In turn, such persons were considered to lack the legal capacity to enter into binding contracts. Even though such laws made life harder for creditors (who now had the burden of ensuring that any prospective debtor had not been judicially declared a spendthrift), they were thought to be justified by the public policy of keeping a spendthrift's family from ending up in the poorhouse or on welfare. Such laws have since been abolished — in some countries — in favour of modern bankruptcy, which is more favourable to creditors.
Receivership is another equitable remedy for a spendthrift, by which a state-court-appointed trustee or attorney manages and sells the property of the debtor in default on debts.
^World Wide Words, "how thrift applied to spend can end up being someone who is not thrifty"
^"Marx was notoriously incapable of keeping accounts, and [his wife] Jenny was a regular customer of the London pawnbrokers." Kołakowski, Leszek (1978). Main Currents of Marxism, Vol I: The Founders, Oxford: Clarendon Press, ISBN 0192851071 p. 193-194
^"Engels was always sending Marx money; when he finally retired from the family firm, he made Marx an annuity of £350—several times more than the average family lived on but not enough for Marx, who always adjusted his spending to a level above what his benefactors supplied." Roger Kimball, "The Death of Socialism", New Criterion April 2002, accessed 20 November 2012
^Gerhard Hojer (ed.): König Ludwig II.-Museum Herrenchiemsee. Katalog (Munich, 1986, p. 137)
^Olshen v. Kaufman, 235 Or. 423, 385 P.2d 161 (1963). This case involved the same defendant and was relied upon by the majority in Lilienthal. Both cases involved joint ventures for the sale of binoculars.