What are the Meanings of Squander?

The Latin word dilapidāre came to our language as squandering. This verb refers to wasting or squandering resources, whether their own or those that an individual has the responsibility to manage or administer.

For example: “If you continue like this, you are going to squander all your savings”, “We must not squander water since it is a scarce resource”, “How long are we going to tolerate public officials dedicating themselves to squandering funds? public?” .

Squandering implies wasting: making an unnecessary expense. Whoever squanders money or some good that can run out, therefore, is wasting it. It is a behavior that is not logical or rational.

Suppose a man wins a millionaire sum in the lottery. His family and friends suggest that he enjoy the prize, but that he also save and invest to ensure that he does not have any financial problems in the future. The lucky guy, however, begins to squander the money he earned: he buys products he doesn’t need or use, he uses bills to light his cigarettes, he buys drinks for people he doesn’t even know and approaches him out of convenience, etc. Thus, in a few years the man runs out of money.

Electric power is also a resource that is sometimes wasted. Each region has a limited generation capacity: once that limit is reached, outages and service interruptions occur due to high demand. If a person leaves all the lights in his house on, he uses the air conditioning at a temperature lower than the recommended temperature and never turns off the television even if he is not watching it, he is wasting electricity.

As can happen with many other terms, squandering has at least one very similar one, in this case we refer to stoning, which generates certain confusions in everyday speech, since some people use them interchangeably despite their meanings being very different. We understand by stoning the action of “stoned someone to death”, that is, throwing stones at them violently, or the very action of “throwing rocks at a person”.

In this framework we can speak of the noun stoning, which precisely refers to a form of execution that was used in ancient times, which consisted of violently throwing stones at an inmate until taking his life. Since human beings are capable of withstanding strong blows without losing consciousness, as long as they are delivered to certain parts of the body, this sentence was especially heinous because it produced a very slow and painful death.

If we ask ourselves the reason why it is common for Spanish-speakers to confuse these two words in informal language, we are probably looking at its component «gravestone», which in Latin derives from lapis, lapidis (which can be translated as « stone”). In the etymology of the verb lapidar we find lapidare, which also meant “to kill with blows of stone”, and which attached the suffix -ar to the noun lapis, lapidis, so used in our language.

Well, in the verb to squander we also have the noun lapis, lapidis, and the reason that both terms use the idea of ​​«stone» to form their meanings is that when we think of «wasting, squandering or squandering» money we can imagine someone throwing stones without any qualms, wasting their assets indiscriminately and unconsciously.

In conclusion, we should not say, for example, that “the journalist squandered the singer in his article because of the quality of her presentation in the theater” but, in a figurative sense, “he stoned her”, referring to the negative character of her critical, probably harshly pointing out aspects of her voice and stage presence.