[ pen-yuh-ree ]
See synonyms for penury on
  1. extreme poverty; destitution.

  2. scarcity; dearth; inadequacy; insufficiency.

Origin of penury

1400–50; late Middle English <Latin pēnūria; akin to Greek peîna hunger, penía poverty

Other words for penury

Opposites for penury

Words Nearby penury Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use penury in a sentence

  • Hunger and penury had carved lines as easy to read in her face as the traces of asceticism and fear.

    An Episode Under the Terror | Honore de Balzac
  • Hundreds of families were burned out, and reduced from opulence, or at least competency, to penury.

    The Boys of '61 | Charles Carleton Coffin.
  • The towns of the old world have alternations of penury and affluence.

    American Sketches | Charles Whibley

British Dictionary definitions for penury


/ (ˈpɛnjʊrɪ) /

  1. extreme poverty

  2. extreme scarcity

Origin of penury

C15: from Latin pēnūria dearth, of obscure origin

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