[ poor ]
/ pʊər /

adjective, poor·er, poor·est.


(used with a plural verb) poor persons collectively (usually preceded by the): sympathy for the poor.


    poor as a church mouse, extremely poor.
    poor as Job's turkey, extremely poor; impoverished.

Origin of poor

1150–1200; Middle English pov(e)re < Old French povre < Latin pauper. See pauper


1 needy, indigent, necessitous, straitened, destitute, penniless, poverty-stricken. Poor, impecunious, impoverished, penniless refer to those lacking money. Poor is the simple term for the condition of lacking means to obtain the comforts of life: a very poor family. Impecunious often suggests that the poverty is a consequence of unwise habits: an impecunious actor. Impoverished often implies a former state of greater plenty, from which one has been reduced: the impoverished aristocracy. Penniless may mean destitute, or it may apply simply to a temporary condition of being without funds: The widow was left penniless with three small children.
5 meager.
6 unsatisfactory, shabby.
7 sterile, barren, unfruitful, unproductive.
8 thin, skinny, meager, gaunt.
14 miserable, unhappy, pitiable.


1, 5, 7 rich.
1, 3, 4 wealthy.

Related forms

poor·ness, nounnon·poor, nounqua·si-poor, adjectivequa·si-poor·ly, adverb

Can be confused

paw poor pore

Pronunciation note

In the North and North Midland U.S., the vowel of poor is most often [oo] /ʊ/. Poor and sure thus contrast with pour and shore: [poor] /pʊər/, [shoor] /ʃʊər/ versus [pawr] /pɔr/, [shawr] /ʃɔr/ or [pohr] /poʊr/, [shohr] /ʃoʊr/. In the South Midland and South, the vowel of poor is generally [aw] /ɔ/ or [oh] /oʊ/ (often with the final (r) dropped), which means that in these areas, poor and pour are homophones, as are sure and shore. Both types of pronunciation exist in the British Isles.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for poor

British Dictionary definitions for poor


/ (pʊə, pɔː) /


Derived Forms

poorness, noun

Word Origin for poor

C13: from Old French povre, from Latin pauper; see pauper, poverty
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