• synonyms


[im-pov-er-isht, -pov-risht]
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  1. reduced to poverty.
  2. (of a country, area, etc.) having few trees, flowers, birds, wild animals, etc.
  3. deprived of strength, vitality, creativeness, etc.: an impoverished attempt at humor.
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Origin of impoverished

First recorded in 1625–35; impoverish + -ed2
Related formsun·im·pov·er·ished, adjective


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1. See poor.


[im-pov-er-ish, -pov-rish]
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.
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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


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

Related Words


Examples from the Web for impoverished

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The farmers were impoverished, and the poorer people made beggars.

    The Scapegoat

    Hall Caine

  • The king was so impoverished that he had not money sufficient to pay the debt.

  • What you say about the children shows how impoverished is the blood.

    The Man Who Wins

    Robert Herrick

  • It was not he who enticed them; it was not he who impoverished them.

    Peak and Prairie

    Anna Fuller

  • A people is impoverished by importations and enriched by exportations.

British Dictionary definitions for impoverished


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
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Derived Formsimpoverisher, nounimpoverishment, noun

Word Origin

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 impoverished



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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper