a period of dry weather, especially a long one that is injurious to crops.
an extended shortage: a drought of good writing.
Archaic. thirst.

Also drouth [drouth] /draʊθ/.

Origin of drought

before 1000; Middle English; Old English drūgath, equivalent to drūg- (base of drȳge dry) + -ath -th1; cognate with Dutch droogte dryness
Can be confuseddraught drought (see pronunciation note at draught)

Synonyms for drought

Pronunciation note

Drought and drouth, nouns derived from the adjective dry plus a suffix, are spellings that represent two phonetic developments of the same Old English word, and are pronounced [drout] /draʊt/ and [drouth] /draʊθ/ respectively. The latter pronunciation, therefore, is not a mispronunciation of drought. The now unproductive suffix -th1 and its alternate form -t were formerly used to derive nouns from adjectives or verbs, resulting in such pairs as drouthdrought from dry and highth—height (the former now obsolete) from high.
In American English, drought with the pronunciation [drout] /draʊt/ is common everywhere in educated speech, and is the usual printed form.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for drought

Contemporary Examples of drought

Historical Examples of drought

  • Only once before in her memory had there been such a summer and such a drought.


    Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius

  • And in times of drought all make pilgrimage there to offer up prayers.

  • Lucagnolo had drought some wench whom he believed to be Madonna Paola.

    The Shame of Motley

    Raphael Sabatini

  • Only those who have been through a drought know what music there is hidden in rain.

    Hidden Water

    Dane Coolidge

  • Sheep and the drought had come together, and the round-up was a failure.

    Hidden Water

    Dane Coolidge

British Dictionary definitions for drought



a prolonged period of scanty rainfall
a prolonged shortage
an archaic or dialect word for thirst Archaic and Scot form: drouth
Derived Formsdroughty, adjective

Word Origin for drought

Old English drūgoth; related to Dutch droogte; see dry
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 drought

Old English drugað, drugoð "drought, dryness, desert," from Proto-Germanic *drugothaz, from Germanic root *dreug- "dry" (cf high/height) with *-itho, Germanic suffix for forming abstract nouns (see -th (2)). Drouth was a Middle English variant continued in Scottish and northern English dialect and in poetry.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

drought in Science



A long period of abnormally low rainfall, lasting up to several years.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.