beg·​gar | \ˈbe-gər \

Definition of beggar 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : one that begs (see beg entry 1 sense 1) especially : a person who lives by asking for gifts

2 : pauper … this system only created beggars, completely dependent on outside help …— Darcy Ribeiro

3 : fellow sense 4c an unlucky beggar


beggared; beggaring\ˈbe-​gə-​riŋ \

Definition of beggar (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to reduce to poverty or the practice of asking for charity : to reduce to beggary

2 : to exceed the resources or abilities of : defy beggars description so outrageous as to beggar belief

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Synonyms for beggar

Synonyms: Noun

mendicant, panhandler

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Examples of beggar in a Sentence


I heard you won the contest! You lucky beggar! the pitiful beggars that are such a common sight in underdeveloped countries


Years of civil war had beggared the country.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

No one, regardless of age, should be subjected to flogging; that a child was prosecuted for consuming alcohol and sentenced to 80 lashes beggars belief. Greg Norman, Fox News, "GRAPHIC PHOTO: Iran slammed for 'shocking' flogging of man convicted for drinking alcohol as a teen," 12 July 2018 So, as your mother would say, beggars can’t be choosers. Chloe Metzger, Marie Claire, "The Anti-Aging Cheat Sheet for Really, Really Lazy People," 31 July 2018 The beggars are a blind man and a 10-year-old boy, the boy hired from his father for this specific purpose. Laila Lalami, New York Times, "Displaced Persons," 1 Jan. 2018 At grocery stores, beggars jostle with middle-class shoppers, who sheepishly ask to put their purchases on credit. David M. Halbfinger, New York Times, "With Gaza in Financial Crisis, Fears That ‘an Explosion’s Coming’," 11 Feb. 2018 Reporting on the study in Februrary, Nicola Davis at The Guardian revealed that image of a crouching beggar woman also had a secret history. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "High-Tech Scanning Shows Picasso’s Blue Period Evolution," 11 June 2018 And this is definitely the closest that Chelsea have come to beggars in the 15 year reign of Roman Abramovich., "Why Chelsea Should Take a Punt on Super Jack Wilshere and Make Him the Golden Boy He Deserves to Be," 22 June 2018 Evictions of thousands of people from makeshift settlements in Abidjan and a drive to chase street vendors and beggars from intersections have stoked criticism that the government is ignoring the poor. Pauline Bax,, "Ivory Coast’s President Suggests He May Run Again, Sparking Concern," 4 June 2018 In the capital’s historic center, where prayers echo from loudspeakers and child beggars haunt visitors, 23-year-old Musid has nothing good to say about the social opening sweeping across Islam’s birthplace., "Some Saudi Millennials Won’t Dance to Their Young Prince’s Tune," 29 Jan. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Summer is made of stories: fiction that seems true, and true stories that beggar belief. John Timpane,, "A summer made of stories: Great books for warmer days," 2 June 2018 To imagine that a country with an economy smaller than Canada’s or Italy’s could leverage a superpower ten times wealthier beggared the imagination. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Russian Leverage Over Trump Is Not Just a Theory. It’s Now Fact.," 8 May 2018 And both seek a way out, though nothing could be less virtual, or more beggared of thrills, than the path that Charley chooses. Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, "“Ready Player One” and “Lean on Pete”," 24 Mar. 2018 The prescience of this story, intended as satire in the mid-’70s and all too real in 2018 America, beggars belief. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, "From Buckingham Palace to the National Theatre, Hamish Bowles Takes London by Storm," 23 Feb. 2018 Cousins was having his best season as a pro, putting up stat lines that beggared belief, fusing brilliantly with fellow All-Star big man Anthony Davis, and likely leading the Pelicans to a playoff berth. Nathaniel Friedman, GQ, "Boogie Makes the NBA Better," 30 Jan. 2018 Through it all, the obscenely wealthy Rauner squats amid his piles of money and blames everyone but himself for beggaring his state. Noah Berlatsky, Chicago Reader, "Unless Illinois is very, very unlucky, Governor Bruce Rauner will be out on his ass in 2018," 20 Dec. 2017 Despite its oil wealth, years of economic mismanagement have beggared Venezuela. Fabiola Zerpa,, "Venezuelan Arrests Show Maduro Moving Fast to Snatch Power," 1 Aug. 2017 Arya, in an opening scene that at first beggared belief — Time, "Game of Thrones’ Finely Crafted Season 7 Premiere Proves the Show Has New Tricks," 16 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'beggar.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of beggar


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for beggar


Middle English beggere, beggare, from beggen "to beg entry 1" + -ere, -are -er entry 2


Middle English beggeren, verbal derivative of beggere beggar entry 1

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Statistics for beggar

Last Updated

16 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for beggar

The first known use of beggar was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for beggar


beg·​gar | \ˈbe-gər \

Kids Definition of beggar

: a person who lives by begging

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More from Merriam-Webster on beggar

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with beggar

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for beggar

Spanish Central: Translation of beggar

Nglish: Translation of beggar for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of beggar for Arabic Speakers

Comments on beggar

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


a knickknack or trinket

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