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90s Slang You Should Know


[poo r] /pʊər/
adjective, poorer, poorest.
having little or no money, goods, or other means of support:
a poor family living on welfare.
Law. dependent upon charity or public support.
(of a country, institution, etc.) meagerly supplied or endowed with resources or funds.
characterized by or showing poverty.
deficient or lacking in something specified:
a region poor in mineral deposits.
faulty or inferior, as in construction:
poor workmanship.
deficient in desirable ingredients, qualities, or the like:
poor soil.
excessively lean or emaciated, as cattle.
of an inferior, inadequate, or unsatisfactory kind:
poor health.
lacking in skill, ability, or training:
a poor cook.
deficient in moral excellence; cowardly, abject, or mean.
scanty, meager, or paltry in amount or number:
a poor audience.
humble; modest:
They shared their poor meal with a stranger.
unfortunate; hapless:
The poor dog was limping.
(used with a plural verb) poor persons collectively (usually preceded by the):
sympathy for the poor.
poor as a church mouse, extremely poor.
poor as Job's turkey, extremely poor; impoverished.
Origin of poor
1150-1200; Middle English pov(e)re < Old French povre < Latin pauper. See pauper
Related forms
poorness, noun
nonpoor, noun
quasi-poor, adjective
quasi-poorly, adverb
Can be confused
paw, poor, pore.
1. needy, indigent, necessitous, straitened, destitute, penniless, poverty-stricken. Poor, impecunious, impoverished, penniless refer to those lacking money. Poor is the simple term for the condition of lacking means to obtain the comforts of life: a very poor family. Impecunious often suggests that the poverty is a consequence of unwise habits: an impecunious actor. Impoverished often implies a former state of greater plenty, from which one has been reduced: the impoverished aristocracy. Penniless may mean destitute, or it may apply simply to a temporary condition of being without funds: The widow was left penniless with three small children. 5. meager. 6. unsatisfactory, shabby. 7. sterile, barren, unfruitful, unproductive. 8. thin, skinny, meager, gaunt. 14. miserable, unhappy, pitiable.
1, 5, 7. rich. 1, 3, 4. wealthy.
Pronunciation note
In the North and North Midland U.S., the vowel of poor is most often
[oo] /ʊ/ (Show IPA)
Poor and sure thus contrast with pour and shore:
[poo r] /pʊər/
[shoo r] /ʃʊər/
[pawr] /pɔr/
[shawr] /ʃɔr/
[pohr] /poʊr/
[shohr] /ʃoʊr/ .
In the South Midland and South, the vowel of poor is generally
[aw] /ɔ/
[oh] /oʊ/
(often with the final (r) dropped), which means that in these areas, poor and pour are homophones, as are sure and shore. Both types of pronunciation exist in the British Isles. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for poorness
Historical Examples
  • Then I would hurry on, cursing myself for the poorness of my spirit, fancying mocking contempt in the laughter that followed me.

    Paul Kelver Jerome Klapka, AKA Jerome K. Jerome
  • I knew the state of Spain well, his weakness, his poorness, his humbleness at this time.

    Raleigh Edmund Gosse
  • I knew the state of Spain well—his weakness, his poorness, his humbleness at this time.

    Great Ralegh Hugh De Selincourt
  • I never could see no 'poorness of spirit,' come to git at 'em!

    Stories by American Authors (Volume 4) Constance Fenimore Woolson
  • It is not an essential heavenly condition, like poorness of spirit or meekness.

    Hope of the Gospel George MacDonald
  • It showed her deep knowledge of her poorness in laying bare the fact.

  • Her thoughts were merciful, but she laught at ye, Pitying the poorness of your complement, And so she left ye.

    The Mad Lover Francis Beaumont
  • A curious illustration of the poorness of the living occurs in these books.

  • I am taught the poorness of our invention, the ugliness of towns and palaces.

    Essays, Second Series Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Not to be shamed among other girls by the poorness of her apparel was a pride to her.

    Ayala's Angel Anthony Trollope
British Dictionary definitions for poorness


/pʊə; pɔː/
  1. lacking financial or other means of subsistence; needy
  2. (as collective noun; preceded by the): the poor
characterized by or indicating poverty: the country had a poor economy
deficient in amount; scanty or inadequate: a poor salary
when postpositive, usually foll by in. badly supplied (with resources, materials, etc): a region poor in wild flowers
lacking in quality; inferior
giving no pleasure; disappointing or disagreeable: a poor play
(prenominal) deserving of pity; unlucky: poor John is ill again
poor man's something, a (cheaper) substitute for something
Derived Forms
poorness, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old French povre, from Latin pauper; see pauper, poverty
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 poorness

late 13c., from poor (adj.) + -ness.



c.1200, "lacking money or resources, destitute; needy, indigent; small, scanty," from Old French povre "poor, wretched, dispossessed; inadequate; weak, thin" (Modern French pauvre), from Latin pauper "poor, not wealthy," from pre-Latin *pau-paros "producing little; getting little," a compound from the roots of paucus "little" (see paucity) and parare "to produce, bring forth" (see pare).

Replaced Old English earm. Figuratively from early 14c. Meaning "of inferior quality" is from c.1300. Of inhabited places from c.1300; of soil, etc., from late 14c. The poor boy sandwich, made of simple but filling ingredients, was invented and named in New Orleans in 1921. To poor mouth "deny one's advantages" is from 1965 (to make a poor mouth "whine" is Scottish dialect from 1822). Slang poor man's ________ "the cheaper alternative to _______," is from 1854.


"poor persons collectively," mid-12c., from poor (adj.). The Latin adjective pauper "poor" also was used in a noun sense "a poor man."



"poor persons collectively," mid-12c., from poor (adj.). The Latin adjective pauper "poor" also was used in a noun sense "a poor man."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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