beg·​gar | \ ˈbe-gər How to pronounce beggar (audio) \

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 How to pronounce beggar (audio) \

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

Synonyms for beggar

Synonyms: Noun

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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: Noun The crowd includes a businessman, a construction worker, a mother and child, a beggar crouched with a cup and a young man passing him change. Harrison Smith, Washington Post, 9 July 2022 The last symbol a dim garden over-run With Roman beggar-ticks. Sarah Blackwood, The New Republic, 6 Jan. 2022 Another word for a beggar is a ‘panhandler,’ although both terms are vaguely offensive. Stephen Miller, WSJ, 11 Oct. 2021 By situating—or isolating—words, phrases, and sentences in unexpected ways, Jacob gives a surprising weight and importance to a key, a ragpicker, a group of smiling men, three mushrooms, or a Neapolitan beggar. Jed Perl, The New York Review of Books, 25 Feb. 2021 Lakshmi did not come to San Antonio, so Torres brought a taste of the city to the show, cooking a popular dish from Mixtli’s wide-ranging Mexican repertoire: green chile pork in a corn-flour beggar’s purse. Mike Sutter,, 15 June 2020 But their games last night devolved into dissertations on solo play while the other starters hung around the 3-point line like beggars hoping to cadge quarters from the stars. Michael Powell, New York Times, 15 May 2018 The next sticky seed source that will show up is beggar’s lice. Calvin Finch,, 26 Mar. 2020 In 1924, David-Néel disguised herself as a beggar and made her way to the holy city of Lhasa, which at the time, was forbidden to foreigners. Born in 1868, David-Néel’s adventurous spirit was unheard of for a woman. Mélissa Godin, Time, 28 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 The prescience of this story, intended as satire in the mid-’70s and all too real in 2018 America, beggars belief. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, 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, 30 Jan. 2018 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for beggar

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for beggar

Cite this Entry

“Beggar.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for beggar


beg·​gar | \ ˈbe-gər How to pronounce beggar (audio) \

Kids Definition of beggar

: a person who lives by begging

More from Merriam-Webster on beggar

Nglish: Translation of beggar for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of beggar for Arabic Speakers


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