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[des-ti-too-shuh n, -tyoo-] /ˌdɛs tɪˈtu ʃən, -ˈtyu-/
lack of the means of subsistence; utter poverty.
deprivation, lack, or absence.
Origin of destitution
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin dēstitūtiōn- (stem of dēstitūtiō) an abandoning, equivalent to dēstitūt(us) (see destitute) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
predestitution, noun
1. affluence.
Synonym Study
1. See poverty. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for destitution
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • How can you raise the child of destitution and guilt to your own rank?

    Alice, or The Mysteries, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • They all knew, though the widow would not own it, that destitution was at her door.

    The Widow O'Callaghan's Boys Gulielma Zollinger
  • There was thus always a fringe of peasant families on the verge of destitution.

    The Enclosures in England Harriett Bradley
  • I do not know if I ever felt such an utter sense of destitution as at that moment.

    A Day's Ride Charles James Lever
  • A case of destitution, completely; what the newspapers call 'extermination.'

    Roland Cashel Charles James Lever
  • Nor is there anything which is more characteristic of destitution than this sentiment.

    Tony Butler Charles James Lever
  • But if you will not come, take my word for the state of their destitution.

British Dictionary definitions for destitution


the state of being destitute; utter poverty
(rare) lack or deficiency
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 destitution

early 15c., from Old French destitution and directly from Latin destitutionem (nominative destitutio) "a forsaking, deserting," from destitutus, past participle of destituere (see destitute).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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