\ ˈdərth How to pronounce dearth (audio) \

Definition of dearth

1 : scarcity that makes dear specifically : famine
2 : an inadequate supply : lack a dearth of evidence

Where does the word dearth come from?

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.) Dearth, in one form or another, 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.

Examples of dearth in a Sentence

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 … 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 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 there was a dearth of usable firewood at the campsite the dearth of salesclerks at the shoe store annoyed us
Recent Examples on the Web Showing up doesn’t always mean getting help: Sierra Leone has reported a persistent dearth of health workers, and access to blood is widely unreliable. Washington Post, 6 May 2022 Many wealthy countries like the United States have data about what's likely to be impacted, but other parts of the world are facing a dearth of information on this issue. Doug Johnson, Ars Technica, 28 Feb. 2022 This Super Bowl highlighted the Cardinals' dearth of offensive threats once Hopkins left. Kent Somers, The Arizona Republic, 13 Feb. 2022 His reasoning: demographics, a dearth of houses to sell, and consumers’ financial wellbeing all point to signs this red-hot housing market has legs. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, 18 Apr. 2022 Given all the holes on his roster and dearth of cap space this year, GM Terry Fontenot should want to deal out of this spot to begin collecting assets for an overdue rebuild. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, 14 Apr. 2022 That represents not only a dearth of diverse voices around a board table, but a limitation on women’s ability to network and to recruit other women into corporate management. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 8 Apr. 2022 Several things help explain the dearth of bus drivers. Michael Smolenscolumnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6 Apr. 2022 The report also unveiled some inequalities: Monitoring stations remain scant in some developing countries in Africa, South America and the Middle East, resulting in a dearth of air quality data in those regions. Rachel Ramirez, CNN, 22 Mar. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of dearth

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dearth

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

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Time Traveler for dearth

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

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Dictionary Entries Near dearth

dearness allowance



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Statistics for dearth

Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Dearth.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for dearth


\ ˈdərth How to pronounce dearth (audio) \

Kids Definition of dearth

: scarcity, lack There was a dearth of news.

More from Merriam-Webster on dearth

Nglish: Translation of dearth for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dearth for Arabic Speakers


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