[des-ti-too-shuhn, -tyoo-]


lack of the means of subsistence; utter poverty.
deprivation, lack, or absence.

Origin of destitution

1400–50; late Middle English < Latin dēstitūtiōn- (stem of dēstitūtiō) an abandoning, equivalent to dēstitūt(us) (see destitute) + -iōn- -ion
Related formspre·des·ti·tu·tion, noun

Synonym study

1. See poverty.

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

Related Words for destitution

poverty, want, privation

Examples from the Web for destitution

Contemporary Examples of destitution

Historical Examples of destitution

  • How can you raise the child of destitution and guilt to your own rank?

  • They all knew, though the widow would not own it, that destitution was at her door.

  • There was thus always a fringe of peasant families on the verge of destitution.

  • I do not know if I ever felt such an utter sense of destitution as at that moment.

    A Day's Ride

    Charles James Lever

  • A case of destitution, completely; what the newspapers call 'extermination.'

    Roland Cashel

    Charles James Lever

British Dictionary definitions for destitution



the state of being destitute; utter poverty
rare lack or deficiency
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 destitution

early 15c., from Old French destitution and directly from Latin destitutionem (nominative destitutio) "a forsaking, deserting," from destitutus, past participle of destituere (see destitute).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper