Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

impoverish

play
verb im·pov·er·ish \im-ˈpäv-rish, -ˈpä-və-\

Simple Definition of impoverish

  • : to make (someone) poor

  • : to use up the strength or richness of (something, such as land)

Full Definition of impoverish

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to make poor

  3. 2 :  to deprive of strength, richness, or fertility by depleting or draining of something essential

im·pov·er·ish·er noun
im·pov·er·ish·ment play \-mənt\ noun

Examples of impoverish

  1. The dictator enriched himself but impoverished his people.

  2. Poor farming practices impoverished the soil.



Origin of impoverish

Middle English enpoverisshen, from Anglo-French empoveriss-, stem of empoverir, from en- + povre poor — more at poor


First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of impoverish

deplete, drain, exhaust, impoverish, bankrupt mean to deprive of something essential to existence or potency. deplete implies a reduction in number or quantity so as to endanger the ability to function <depleting our natural resources>. drain implies a gradual withdrawal and ultimate deprivation of what is necessary to an existence <personal tragedy had drained him of all spirit>. exhaust stresses a complete emptying <her lecture exhausted the subject>. impoverish suggests a deprivation of something essential to richness or productiveness <impoverished soil>. bankrupt suggests impoverishment to the point of imminent collapse <war had bankrupted the nation of resources>.

IMPOVERISH Defined for Kids

impoverish

play
verb im·pov·er·ish \im-ˈpä-və-rish\

Definition of impoverish

im·pov·er·ishedim·pov·er·ish·ing

  1. 1 :  to make poor <The greedy tyrant impoverished his people.>

  2. 2 :  to use up the strength or richness of <impoverished soil>





Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up impoverish? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

February 5, 2016

bread traditionally eaten on Shabbat

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image1037863653

Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

pince-nez spindrift duvet kittly-benders
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ