drought

[ drout ]
/ draʊt /

noun

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

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Also drouth [drouth]. /draʊθ/.

Origin of drought

First recorded before 1000; Middle English; Old English drūgath, equivalent to drūg- (base of drȳge “dry”) + -ath noun suffix; cognate with Dutch droogte “dryness”; see dry, -th1

pronunciation note for drought

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.

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH drought

draught, drought
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

VOCAB BUILDER

What does drought mean?

A drought is a long period with no rain or unusually low levels of rain or other precipitation.

Because weather and climate are different in different places throughout the world, there is no single definition of what counts as a drought. However, it always refers to a significant period of dry weather. Droughts have many harmful effects, including water shortages, crop failure, and in some cases famine, among other things. The word is often used in the phrase drought conditions, referring to very dry conditions resulting from a lack of rainfall.

Drought can also be used in a figurative way to refer to an extended shortage of or long period without something, as in The city has the longest championship drought in all of sports. 

Example: The drought continued for more than three weeks and wildfires started to appear.

Where does drought come from?

The first records of the word drought in English come from before 1000. It comes from the Old English word drūgath, which is related to the Dutch droogte, meaning “dryness.” The English word dry shares a root with drought.

Droughts can last months and even years. That doesn’t mean there’s no rain at all during that time, but it does mean that there’s a lot less than there usually is. (Most deserts have very low levels of rainfall, but we wouldn’t say they’re experiencing a drought.) Droughts have several negative consequences. First, they create a shortage of water for drinking and for growing crops, which can cause the crops to fail and lead to famine. The excessively dry conditions caused by droughts can also add to the risk of wildfires, which can start more easily and burn more rapidly, using all of the dried plants as their fuel.

When used figuratively, drought refers to a long period without something, as in You complain about not getting a second date but I haven’t had a first date in months—I’m in a real drought. 

The term dry spell can be used as a synonym for both the literal and figurative sense of drought (though, in the literal sense, a dry spell isn’t usually as serious or as long as a drought).

Did you know ... ?

What are some synonyms for drought?

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

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

 

What are some words drought may be commonly confused with?

How is drought used in real life?

The word drought is commonly used in discussions about what causes droughts, how they affect people, and how they can be prevented.

 

 

Try using drought!

Which of the following words is LEAST likely to describe a drought?

A. dangerous
B. long
C. serious
D. short

Example sentences from the Web for drought

British Dictionary definitions for drought

drought
/ (draʊt) /

noun

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

Derived forms of drought

droughty, 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

Scientific definitions for drought

drought
[ drout ]

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.