1590s, "in want, needy, poverty-stricken," a sense now obsolete, from penury + -ous, or else from Medieval Latin penuriosus, from Latin penuria "penury." The meaning "parsimonious, excessively saving or sparing in the use of money" is attested by 1630s. Related: Penuriously; penuriousness.
Penurious means literally in penury, but always feeling and acting as though one were in poverty, saving beyond reason; the word is rather stronger than parsimonious, and has perhaps rather more reference to the treatment of others. One may be parsimonious or penurious, through habits formed in times of having little, without being really miserly. [Century Dictionary]
updated on March 21, 2020