des·ti·tute | \ˈdes-tə-ˌtüt, -ˌt(y)üt\

Definition of destitute 

1 : lacking something needed or desirable a lake destitute of fish

2 : lacking possessions and resources especially : suffering extreme poverty a destitute old man

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Other Words from destitute

destituteness noun

Did You Know?

You may be surprised to learn that "destitute" is related to words like "statue," "statute," and even "statistics." The Latin word status, meaning "position" or "state," is the source of these and other English words. Some terms of this family are directly related to "status," while others come to English through "statuere," a Latin derivative of "status" that means "to set up." "Destitute" came from "destituere" ("to abandon" or "to deprive"), a joining of "statuere" and the prefix de- ("from, down, away"). "Statuere" also gave us "constitute," "institute," and "restitution," among other similar-sounding words.

Examples of destitute in a Sentence

His business failures left him destitute. many families were left destitute by the horrible fire

Recent Examples on the Web

Bangladesh, already host to 1m destitute Rohingya refugees chased out of Myanmar, wants nothing to do with the whole process. The Economist, "From dusty villages to Delhi, Indians seek people to persecute," 5 July 2018 The son of a truck driver, Singh grew up on a farm in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, poor but not destitute. Jon Tayler,, "Million Dollar Moves: After His Unlikely Baseball Career Flamed Out, Rinku Singh's Next Stop Is WWE," 3 July 2018 There are few neighborhoods more impoverished, jobless, crime-ridden or destitute than North Lawndale and West and East Garfield Park. Dahleen Glanton,, "Obama Presidential Center is not only for the South Side," 2 July 2018 Many of the Kingdom’s performers arrive destitute and begging on the street. Charlie Campbell / Kunming, Time, "Finding Love in the Kingdom of the Little People," 1 June 2018 Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt herself was briefly engaged to Gottfried, German prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, charming but destitute. Nancy Bilyeau, Town & Country, "Inside the Custody Battle for 10-Year-Old Heiress Gloria Vanderbilt," 30 Sep. 2016 His departure left his wife and children destitute, forcing them to live off of his Navy pension for a time. Leah Silverman, Town & Country, "Who Was Andrew Cunanan's Father, Modesto 'Pete' Cunanan?," 14 Mar. 2018 There Is No Escape to America The ruling sends a blunt message of rejection to visa seekers from some of the most destitute and dysfunctional countries. New York Times, "Trump Travel Ban: How It Affects the Countries," 26 June 2018 Tens of millions of people remain destitute and thousands of farmers commit suicide each year. Joanna Slater, Washington Post, "India is no longer home to the largest number of poor people in the world. Nigeria is.," 10 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'destitute.' 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 destitute

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for destitute

Middle English, from Latin destitutus, past participle of destituere to abandon, deprive, from de- + statuere to set up — more at statute

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Phrases Related to destitute

the destitute

Statistics for destitute

Last Updated

26 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for destitute

The first known use of destitute was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for destitute



English Language Learners Definition of destitute

: extremely poor

: without something that is needed or wanted


des·ti·tute | \ˈde-stə-ˌtüt, -ˌtyüt\

Kids Definition of destitute

1 : lacking something needed or desirable The room was destitute of comforts.

2 : very poor The charity helps destitute people.

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