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"mean person, miser," late 14c., nygart, of uncertain origin. The suffix suggests French origin (cf. -ard), but the root word is possibly from earlier nig "stingy" (c.1300), perhaps from a Scandinavian source related to Old Norse hnøggr "stingy," from Proto-Germanic *khnauwjaz (cf. Swedish njugg "close, careful," German genau "precise, exact"), and to Old English hneaw "stingy, niggardly," which did not survive in Middle English.