[im-pov-er-ish, -pov-rish]
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verb (used with object)
  1. to reduce to poverty: a country impoverished by war.
  2. to make poor in quality, productiveness, etc.; exhaust the strength or richness of: Bad farming practices impoverished the soil.

Origin of impoverish

1400–50; late Middle English empoverishen < Middle French empovriss- (long stem of empovrir), equivalent to em- em-1 + povre poor + -iss -ish2
Related formsim·pov·er·ish·er, nounim·pov·er·ish·ment, noun

Synonyms for impoverish

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Antonyms for impoverish

1, 2. enrich. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for impoverish

exhaust, ruin, deplete, bankrupt

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British Dictionary definitions for impoverish


verb (tr)
  1. to make poor or diminish the quality ofto impoverish society by cutting the grant to the arts
  2. to deprive (soil, etc) of fertility
Derived Formsimpoverisher, nounimpoverishment, noun

Word Origin for impoverish

C15: from Old French empovrir, from povre poor
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 impoverish

early 15c., empoverischen, from Old French empoveriss-, stem of empoverir, from em- + povre "poor" (see poor). Related: Impoverished; impoverishing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper