Definition of dearth
- a dearth of evidence
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there was a dearth of usable firewood at the campsite
the dearth of salesclerks at the shoe store annoyed us
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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.
First Known Use: 13th centurySee Words from the same year
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