What does it mean to save?

Today’s research lead to a startling conclusion: I don’t know the meaning of the word ‘save.’ The following definitions of the word ‘save’ appear in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Save, sAv, verb.
a. To put aside as a store or reserve: ACCUMULATE (saving money for emergencies)
b. To spend less by (save 25 percent)

I’m on board with the “store or reserve” definition. In fact, until very recently (i.e. this morning), I was convinced that saving money was the opposite of spending money. You know the old saying, “a penny saved is a penny earned”? Well, I believed it.

You can imagine my shock to read the “to spend less by” definition. I thought that advertisers were just being clever when they tell you that you can “save big money” on their products. I’m embarrassed to admit that over the past decade, I have uttered the phrase “you can’t save money at a sale” at least a thousand times.

With all due respect to the dictionary people, I don’t really accept “to spend less” as a meaning for ‘save.’ I mean, let’s be logical, ‘spend’ is the antonym for ‘save’; how did it also manage to weasel its way up to the definition?

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.

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