\ 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

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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

But frustration among politicians about the dearth of a European Google, Amazon or Alibaba lives on. The Economist, "The Europeans want their own Vision Fund to invest in tech," 31 Aug. 2019 Despite having one of their best seasons in the club's recent history last campaign, Liverpool fans were still somewhat miffed this summer, due to the dearth of transfer activity conducted by Jurgen Klopp., "4 Liverpool Players Who Could Still Leave Anfield This Summer," 20 Aug. 2019 The new series arrives as there is increasing scrutiny about the dearth of Latinx representation in media. Los Angeles Times, "Gabby Rivera’s new comic book series is a ‘love letter to queer kids everywhere’," 19 Aug. 2019 The troubled department struggles with recruitment, leading to a dearth of officers on the streets. Talia Richman,, "Baltimore Police Department to new recruits: ‘You will have integrity’," 5 Aug. 2019 Many of the transplanted companies, however, are hiring out-of-towners due to a dearth of qualified local workers. Ana Campoy, Quartz, "How free college works in a red state like Texas," 31 July 2019 As the town’s cash registers ring from an uptick in tourism and an influx of new neighbors, the prosperity also translates to a dearth of affordable housing and stressed infrastructure. Nic Garcia, The Denver Post, "Denver Post listening tour: Leadville looks to diversify beyond “scrappy mining town”," 14 July 2019 The aurora australis keep a lower profile simply due to a dearth of viewing platforms on terra firma. Jonathan Irish, National Geographic, "10 Dazzling Celestial Displays—and Where to See Them," 8 Apr. 2019 But the $600 million Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit line, envisioned as a fast-moving alternative to the traffic on Highway 101, is struggling with a dearth of riders and sales tax revenue. Taylor Kate Brown,, "Bay Briefing: A new day for Mission Bay," 26 Aug. 2019

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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dearness allowance





Statistics for dearth

Last Updated

15 Sep 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



English Language Learners Definition of dearth

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


\ ˈdərth How to pronounce dearth (audio) \

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

Comments on dearth

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one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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