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See more synonyms for beggar on Thesaurus.com
  1. a person who begs alms or lives by begging.
  2. a penniless person.
  3. a wretched fellow; rogue: the surly beggar who collects the rents.
  4. a child or youngster (usually preceded by little): a sudden urge to hug the little beggar.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to reduce to utter poverty; impoverish: The family had been beggared by the war.
  2. to cause one's resources of or ability for (description, comparison, etc.) to seem poor or inadequate: The costume beggars description.
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Origin of beggar

First recorded in 1175–1225, beggar is from the Middle English word beggare, beggere. See beg1, -er1, -ar3
Related formsbeg·gar·hood, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

mar, impoverish, wreck, overwhelm, injure, shatter, exhaust, demolish, crush, decimate, wrack, deplete, spoil, raze, bankrupt, deface, defile, beggar, reduce, sack

Examples from the Web for beggaring

Historical Examples

  • Over the metropolitan area, the scene was one beggaring description.

    Spawn of the Comet

    Harold Thompson Rich

  • Then, my false friend; and thou would'st end by beggaring me quite.



  • By such maxims as these, however, nations have been taught that their interest consisted in beggaring all their neighbours.

  • What you greatly need is some one to look after you and your sister and to prevent you from beggaring yourself and her.

    Dick Merriwell Abroad

    Burt L. Standish

  • Your scheme for beggaring your children, and enriching yourself, clever as it is, is killed in the bud.

British Dictionary definitions for beggaring


  1. a person who begs, esp one who lives by begging
  2. a person who has no money or resources; pauper
  3. ironic, jocular, mainly British fellowlucky beggar!
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verb (tr)
  1. to be beyond the resources of (esp in the phrase to beggar description)
  2. to impoverish; reduce to begging
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Derived Formsbeggarhood or beggardom, noun
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

Word Origin and History for beggaring



"reduce to poverty," mid-15c., from beggar (n.). Related: Beggared; beggaring. Figurative use by 1640s.

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c.1200, from Old French begart, originally a member of the Beghards, lay brothers of mendicants in the Low Countries, from Middle Dutch beggaert "mendicant," of uncertain origin, with pejorative suffix (see -ard). Cf. Beguine. Early folk etymology connected the English word with bag. Form with -ar attested from 14c., but begger was more usual 15c.-17c. The feminine form beggestere is attested as a surname from c.1300. Beggar's velvet was an old name for "dust bunnies." "Beggers should be no choosers" is in Heywood (1562).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper