View synonyms for poor


[ poor ]


, poor·er, poor·est.
  1. having little or no money, goods, or other means of support:

    She came from a poor family struggling to survive.

    Synonyms: straitened, necessitous, poverty-stricken, penniless, destitute, impoverished, indigent, needy

    Antonyms: wealthy, rich

  2. Law. dependent upon charity or public support.
  3. (of a country, institution, etc.) meagerly supplied or endowed with resources or funds.
  4. characterized by or showing poverty.
  5. deficient or lacking in something specified:

    a region poor in mineral deposits.

    Synonyms: meager

  6. faulty or inferior, as in construction:

    poor workmanship.

    Synonyms: shabby, unsatisfactory

  7. (of land or soil) lacking abundance or productivity:

    poor soil.

    Synonyms: unfruitful, barren, sterile

    Antonyms: fertile

  8. excessively lean or emaciated, as cattle.

    Synonyms: gaunt, meager, skinny, thin

  9. of an inferior, inadequate, or unsatisfactory kind:

    poor health.

  10. lacking in skill, ability, or training:

    a poor cook.

  11. deficient in moral excellence; cowardly, abject, or mean.
  12. scanty, meager, or paltry in amount or number:

    a poor audience.

  13. They shared their poor meal with a stranger.

  14. The poor dog was limping.

    Synonyms: pitiable, unhappy, miserable


, (used with a plural verb)
  1. Usually the poor. Often Disparaging and Offensive. poor people collectively.


/ pʊə; pɔː /


    1. lacking financial or other means of subsistence; needy
    2. ( as collective noun; preceded by the )

      the poor

  1. characterized by or indicating poverty

    the country had a poor economy

  2. deficient in amount; scanty or inadequate

    a poor salary

  3. whenpostpositive, usually foll by in badly supplied (with resources, materials, etc)

    a region poor in wild flowers

  4. lacking in quality; inferior
  5. giving no pleasure; disappointing or disagreeable

    a poor play

  6. prenominal deserving of pity; unlucky

    poor John is ill again

  7. poor man's something
    a (cheaper) substitute for something

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Pronunciation Note

In North and North Midland U.S. English, the vowel of poor is most often [oo]. Poor and sure thus contrast with pour and shore: [p, oo, r], [sh, oo, r] versus [pawr], [shawr] or [pohr], [shohr]. In the South Midland and South, the vowel of poor is generally [aw] or [oh] (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.

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Derived Forms

  • ˈpoorness, noun

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Other Words From

  • poor·ness noun
  • non·poor noun
  • qua·si-poor adjective
  • qua·si-poor·ly adverb

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Word History and Origins

Origin of poor1

First recorded in 1150–1200; Middle English pov(e)re, from Old French povre, from Latin pauper; pauper

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Word History and Origins

Origin of poor1

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

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. poor as Job's turkey, Southern and South Midland U.S. extremely poor.
  2. poor as a church mouse, extremely poor.

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Synonym Study

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.

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Example Sentences

Indeed, when the first asylums were created, the poor and the mad were locked up together with the rest of society’s outcasts.

A House committee took the proposal further this week, replacing Hogan’s $750 payments to 400,000 poor families with a three-year anti-poverty plan that would increase the Earned Income Tax Credit.

The wealthier wards had kids returning to class at twice the rate as the poorest ward in the city, according to city data.

Chairs that offer active sitting will strengthen your core while offering support for your lower back, while chairs that have poor support can cause spinal alignment issues and lead to a potentially serious back injury.

Their conclusion, summarized in a statement and short report, is that the crash stemmed from the pilot executing “poor decision making” as well as experiencing spatial disorientation.

Placed in drinking water, fluoride can serve people who otherwise have poor access to dental care.

If so, he has his silence -- on top of poor judgment -- to blame.

But most likely it was linked to the way priests identify with the poor in the face of government and criminal abuses.

What they actually mean by that is, you know, he actually knows some people that are poor.

For those living in poor communities in particular, interactions with police rarely come with good news and a smile.

Poor Squinty ran and tried to hide under the straw, for he knew the boy was talking about him.

He did believe you, more or less, and what you said fell in with his own impressions—strange impressions that they were, poor man!

In withdrawing aside sorrow remaineth: and the substance of the poor is according to his heart.

The poor must look to the brightness of a future world for the consolation that they were denied in this.

Y was a Youth, that did not love school; Z was a Zany, a poor harmless fool.


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




poop staffpoor as a churchmouse