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[puh-noor-ee-uhs, -nyoor-]
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  1. extremely stingy; parsimonious; miserly.
  2. extremely poor; destitute; indigent.
  3. poorly or inadequately supplied; lacking in means or resources.
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Origin of penurious

From the Medieval Latin word pēnūriōsus, dating back to 1590–1600. See penury, -ous
Related formspe·nu·ri·ous·ly, adverbpe·nu·ri·ous·ness, nounun·pe·nu·ri·ous, adjectiveun·pe·nu·ri·ous·ly, adverbun·pe·nu·ri·ous·ness, noun

Synonyms for penurious

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Antonyms for penurious

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

Examples from the Web for penurious

Historical Examples of penurious

  • She was so penurious, that she did not give me what was necessary to sustain life.

    The Autobiography of Madame Guyon

    Jeanne Marie Bouvier de La Motte Guyon

  • No; but even in the most penurious times it was kings who were the patrons.

    The New Society

    Walther Rathenau

  • If one were ever penurious, might it not be of these handsome loaves of hers?

  • His clothing appeared to indicate a penurious, grasping nature.

    Under Fire

    Frank A. Munsey

  • Yes; but you trifle with me by these reluctant and penurious communications.

British Dictionary definitions for penurious


  1. niggardly with money
  2. lacking money or means
  3. yielding little; scanty
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Derived Formspenuriously, adverbpenuriousness, noun
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 penurious


1590s, from penury + -ous, or else from Medieval Latin penuriosus, from Latin penuria "penury." Originally "poverty-stricken, in a state of penury;" meaning "stingy" is first attested 1630s. Related: Penuriously.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper