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 confuseddearth plethoradearth death

Synonyms for dearth

Antonyms for dearth Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for dearth

Contemporary Examples of dearth

Historical Examples of dearth

  • 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.



  • 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 for dearth

C13: derthe, from dēr dear
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 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