noun \ˈdərth\

Definition of dearth

  1. 1 :  scarcity that makes dear; specifically :  famine

  2. 2 :  an inadequate supply :  lack a dearth of evidence

dearth was our Word of the Day on 09/28/2012. Hear the podcast!

Examples of dearth in a sentence

  1. It may also be a respite for booksellers, who have been grumbling for several years about sluggish sales and a dearth of dependable blockbuster fiction. —Julie Bosman, New York Times, 19 Oct. 2006

  2. … Earnhardt has recently hinted that a company-wide dearth of talent is the core reason his Chevy simply isn't as fast in 2005 as it's been in the past. —Lars Anderson, Sports Illustrated, 11 Apr. 2006

  3. AirNet, which hauls bank checks and other time-critical freight, used to require that its pilots have at least 1,200 hours of flight experience. Then, faced with a dearth of experienced applicants, it dropped the requirement to 500 hours. Now, it has no minimum. —Scott McCartney, Wall Street Journal, 10 Aug. 2000

  4. there was a dearth of usable firewood at the campsite

  5. the dearth of salesclerks at the shoe store annoyed us

Did You Know?

The facts about the history of the word dearth are quite simple: the word derives from the Middle English form "derthe," which has the same meaning as our modern term. That Middle English form is assumed to have developed from an Old English form that was probably spelled "dierth" and was related to "dēore," the Old English form that gave us the word dear. ("Dear" also once meant "scarce," but that sense of the word is now obsolete.) Some form of "dearth" has been used to describe things that are in short supply since at least the 13th century, when it often referred to a shortage of food.

Origin and Etymology of dearth

Middle English derthe, from Old English *dierth, from dēore dear

First Known Use: 13th century

DEARTH Defined for English Language Learners


noun \ˈdərth\

Definition of dearth for English Language Learners

  • : the state or condition of not having enough of something

DEARTH Defined for Kids


noun \ˈdərth\

Definition of dearth for Students

  1. :  scarcity, lack There was a dearth of news.

Seen and Heard

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capable of being understood in two ways

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