Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[pov-er-tee] /ˈpɒv ər ti/
the state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support; condition of being poor.
Antonyms: riches, wealth, plenty.
deficiency of necessary or desirable ingredients, qualities, etc.:
poverty of the soil.
scantiness; insufficiency:
Their efforts to stamp out disease were hampered by a poverty of medical supplies.
Origin of poverty
1125-75; Middle English poverte < Old French < Latin paupertāt- (stem of paupertās) small means, moderate circumstances. See pauper, -ty2
Synonym Study
1. Poverty, destitution, need, want imply a state of privation and lack of necessities. Poverty denotes serious lack of the means for proper existence: living in a state of extreme poverty. Destitution, a somewhat more literary word, implies a state of having absolutely none of the necessities of life: widespread destitution in countries at war. Need emphasizes the fact that help or relief is necessary: Most of the people were in great need. Want emphasizes privations, especially lack of food and clothing: Families were suffering from want. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for poverty
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She cared little for poverty or riches, as long as she had regained her chief treasures.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • Many in our country do not know the pain of poverty, but we can listen to those who do.

  • They rend the heart with pity all the more for the reason that there is no sense in their poverty.

  • Its most significant details were of a sordid kind, familiar to poverty.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • In the one case, as she knew it, a girl under the urge of poverty had stolen.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
British Dictionary definitions for poverty


the condition of being without adequate food, money, etc
scarcity or dearth: a poverty of wit
a lack of elements conducive to fertility in land or soil
Word Origin
C12: from Old French poverté, from Latin paupertās restricted means, from pauperpoor
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for poverty

late 12c., from Old French poverte "poverty, misery, wretched condition" (Modern French pauvreté), from Latin paupertatem (nominative paupertas) "poverty," from pauper "poor" (see poor (adj.)).

Seeing so much poverty everywhere makes me think that God is not rich. He gives the appearance of it, but I suspect some financial difficulties. [Victor Hugo, "Les Misérables," 1862]
Poverty line attested from 1901; poverty trap from 1966; poverty-stricken from 1803.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for poverty

Word Value for poverty

Scrabble Words With Friends