[ durth ]
/ dɜrθ /
Save This Word!

an inadequate supply; scarcity; lack: There is a dearth of good engineers.
scarcity and dearness of food; famine.
"Is" it time for a new quiz? "Are" you ready? Then prove your excellent skills on using "is" vs. "are."
Question 1 of 7
IS and ARE are both forms of which verb?

Origin of dearth

First recorded in 1200–50, dearth is from the Middle English word derthe.See dear1, -th1


1. dearth , plethora2. dearth , death
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does dearth mean?

A dearth of something is a lack or scarcity of it.

The word is especially used in serious situations in which there is a shortage of something important. It is usually followed by of and the thing that is lacking, as in a dearth of resources or a dearth of clean water. 

Much less commonly, dearth is used in a more specific way to refer to a scarcity of food—a famine.

Example: The dearth of teachers has resulted in large class sizes.

Where does dearth come from?

The first records of the word dearth come from the 1200s. It comes from the Middle English word derthe. It’s essentially a combination of the adjective dear, in its outdated sense of “scarce” or “difficult to get,” and the suffix -th, which is used to turn adjectives into nouns, as in strength and depth.

Dearth can be used in contexts involving both the shortage of tangible things, as in There’s a dearth of medical clinics in the region, and intangible ones, as in There’s a dearth of research on the subject. In any case, it usually involves a shortage that’s serious and could cause problems. The words lack and scarcity are close synonyms, but they’re less formal.

Did you know ... ?

What are some synonyms for dearth?

What are some words that share a root or word element with dearth



What are some words that often get used in discussing dearth?


How is dearth used in real life?

Dearth is a somewhat formal term, but it can be used in everyday conversation. It’s often used in a serious context.



Try using dearth!

Is dearth used correctly in the following sentence? 

There are dearth resources to address this issue.

How to use dearth in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for dearth

/ (dɜːθ) /

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