dearth

noun
\ ˈdərth \

Definition of dearth 

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

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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.) 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.

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
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Recent Examples on the Web

Indra Nooyi’s departure draws attention to the dearth of prominent female CEOs in corporate America. Craig Giammona, The Seattle Times, "Pepsi’s first female CEO to end 12-year run, replaced by insider," 6 Aug. 2018 Some analysts expect a dearth of investment in new supply to eventually lift metals prices on a longer time horizon, though trade fears largely continue to dictate trading. Amrith Ramkumar, WSJ, "Base Metals Follow Stocks, Oil Lower," 6 Dec. 2018 Though skiing soon became second nature, the dearth of affordable yet stylish ski gear kept her from feeling completely comfortable on the slopes. Zoe Ruffner, Vogue, "Introducing Matek, a New Line of Cutting-Edge Ski Intimates," 4 Dec. 2018 Those older Americans with mobility challenges face a dearth of options; according to the latest available estimates from 2011, only 3.5 percent of the nation’s homes had single-floor living, no-step entry, and extra-wide halls and doors. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Senior housing: Older Americans face affordability, accessibility challenges," 14 Nov. 2018 Hawaii Republicans are bringing experienced staffers from the mainland to help professionalize campaigns amid a dearth of qualified candidates. Michelle R. Smith, The Seattle Times, "Even in high-interest election year, top races go unopposed," 25 Oct. 2018 There's an alarming dearth of black designers working in fashion. Jessica Andrews, Teen Vogue, "Black Women on the September Covers Give Me Hope, But There’s Still More Work to Do," 20 Aug. 2018 Surprisingly, though, there remains a relative dearth of academic studies comparing outcomes from real and virtual medical visits. Clifton Leaf, Fortune, "Why Hasn’t Telemedicine Taken Off? Hey, Blame This Guy.," 3 July 2018 The widening gap comes despite a relative dearth of new bond sales from U.S. companies, a sign that investors’ demand has slowed faster than supply. Sam Goldfarb, WSJ, "Debt-Market Slowdown Troubles Investors," 18 Nov. 2018

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.

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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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Dictionary Entries near dearth

dearling

dearly

dearness allowance

dearth

deary

deas

deash

Statistics for dearth

Last Updated

6 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for dearth

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

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More Definitions for dearth

dearth

noun

English Language Learners Definition of dearth

: the state or condition of not having enough of something

dearth

noun
\ ˈdərth \

Kids Definition of dearth

: scarcity, lack There was a dearth of news.

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More from Merriam-Webster on dearth

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dearth

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dearth

Spanish Central: Translation of dearth

Nglish: Translation of dearth for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dearth for Arabic Speakers

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