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[durth] /dɜrθ/
an inadequate supply; scarcity; lack:
There is a dearth of good engineers.
scarcity and dearness of food; famine.
Origin of dearth
First recorded in 1200-50, dearth is from the Middle English word derthe. See dear1, -th1
Can be confused
dearth, plethora.
dearth, death.
1. shortage, want, paucity, insufficiency.
1. abundance, plenty, sufficiency; surplus. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for dearth
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • For who does not know what a dearth there is of wise men, if yet any one be to be found?

    The Praise of Folly Desiderius Erasmus
  • "A very acceptable one in these days of dearth," said Mary, blushing.

    The Elm Tree Tales F. Irene Burge Smith
  • Here at Athens there is a dearth of the commodity, and all wisdom seems to have emigrated from us to you.

    Meno Plato
  • From the housing question to the dearth of servants we feel its baneful effects.

    The Curse of Education Harold E. Gorst
  • The mills, with their dyes and dirt, are also responsible for the dearth of trout.

    Angling Sketches Andrew Lang
British Dictionary definitions for dearth


an inadequate amount, esp of food; scarcity
Word Origin
C13: derthe, from dērdear
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for dearth

mid-13c., derthe "scarcity" (originally used of famines, when food was costly because scarce; extended to other situations of scarcity from early 14c.), abstract noun formed from root of Old English deore "precious, costly" (see dear) + abstract noun suffix -th (2). Common Germanic formation, though not always with the same sense (cf. Old Saxon diurtha "splendor, glory, love," Middle Dutch dierte, Dutch duurte, Old High German tiurida "glory").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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