1 of 2


beg·​gar ˈbe-gər How to pronounce beggar (audio)
: one that begs (see beg entry 1 sense 1)
especially : a person who lives by asking for gifts
: pauper
… this system only created beggars, completely dependent on outside help …Darcy Ribeiro
: fellow sense 4c
an unlucky beggar


2 of 2


beggared; beggaring ˈbe-gə-riŋ How to pronounce beggar (audio)

transitive verb

: to reduce to poverty or the practice of asking for charity : to reduce to beggary
: to exceed the resources or abilities of : defy
beggars description
so outrageous as to beggar belief

Examples of beggar in a Sentence

Noun I heard you won the contest! You lucky beggar! the pitiful beggars that are such a common sight in underdeveloped countries Verb Years of civil war had beggared the country.
Recent Examples on the Web
Informed equally by Dylan, Carl Perkins, and the nocturnal shades of tango, Moris fixes his existential gaze on the homeless beggars of Buenos Aires’ industrial areas and the working class men of his generation, entrapped by societal pressures. Ernesto Lechner, SPIN, 16 Apr. 2024 But beggars can’t be choosers, and Republicans had reduced the Ukrainians to beggars. David Axe, Forbes, 12 Feb. 2024 Postwar Phnom Penh was a ramshackle city of squatters, hustlers, and beggars. Chantha Nguon, Condé Nast Traveler, 20 Feb. 2024 One of the best gags involves a famous British actor playing a beggar who is somehow mistaken for Jesus. Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post, 8 Jan. 2024 Another reason poverty is seen as a novelty among the middle class is that local governments usually chase beggars and homeless people off the streets. Li Yuan, New York Times, 4 May 2023 The Greek myth from the fifth century BCE follows Oedipus’ final years after he is banished from his city and becomes a beggar in a seaside town outside of Athens. Steven Vargas, Los Angeles Times, 7 Sep. 2023 Even before Kim's armored train rolled into Russia to discuss an arms deal with Putin, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller described Putin as a beggar. Shannon K. Crawford, ABC News, 12 Sep. 2023 Yet while thousands of beggars and homeless people are removed from Delhi’s streets and forcibly bused to the city limits, where they are dumped, hundreds of thousands more are added amid a spate of demolitions. Srishti Jaswal, The Christian Science Monitor, 7 Sep. 2023
The fact that not a single senior party official numbered among her copious conspirators beggars credulity. Charlie Campbell, TIME, 12 Apr. 2024 Ria eventually uncovers a nefarious plot that beggars even euphemistic description in a spoiler-free universe. Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post, 26 Apr. 2023 Iraq entered a long, grueling period of international sanctions that beggared its once robust middle class. New York Times, 31 Dec. 2019 This, given the popularity of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, beggars belief. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 15 Aug. 2019 His cat like reflex saves often beggared belief, and he was voted Player of the Year at the conclusion of the 2001/02 season., 12 June 2019 Summer is made of stories: fiction that seems true, and true stories that beggar belief. John Timpane,, 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, 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, 24 Mar. 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'beggar.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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

First Known Use


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near beggar

Cite this Entry

“Beggar.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
beg·​gar ˈbeg-ər How to pronounce beggar (audio)
: a person who lives by begging
: a very poor person : pauper


2 of 2 verb
beggared; beggaring ˈbeg-(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce beggar (audio)
: to reduce to beggary
: to go beyond the ability of
the costumes almost beggar description

More from Merriam-Webster on beggar

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