des·​ti·​tute | \ ˈde-stə-ˌtüt How to pronounce destitute (audio) , -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

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 At that time, resources in Europe were scarce, and people were destitute. A.j. Baime, WSJ, 30 July 2022 An African City was part of that vanguard of media counteracting this narrative that Africa is a place that needs aid, where everyone’s destitute, or whatever. Kathleen Anaza, Vogue, 24 July 2022 Local officials who deal directly with the unclaimed, including Meredith Buck, the coroner in Bucks County, Pa., said people who end up this way are not all destitute. Mary Jordan, Washington Post, 2 July 2022 How much will disappear from the bank account before Manny is left destitute? Carolyn Rosenblatt, Forbes, 15 June 2022 This is a destitute Naples, and Lewis’s acute powers of observation put us right there. Edward Chisholm, WSJ, 20 May 2022 It’s a rip-roaring romp that combines black comedy with Hitchcockian horror and social realism—a fable about two clans, one destitute but ambitious and the other naive and wealthy, whose lives become intertwined. Radhika Seth, Vogue, 12 May 2022 Prosecutors said in a news release at the time of his convictions that Buck typically targeted people who were destitute, homeless or struggling with drug addiction. Steve Almasy, CNN, 14 Apr. 2022 Financially destitute and utterly greedy, Rollo sees his daughter as his path out of financial ruin by marrying her off to a wealthy man for money and land. Rebecca Rubin, Variety, 18 May 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

13 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Destitute.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for destitute


des·​ti·​tute | \ ˈde-stə-ˌtüt How to pronounce destitute (audio) , -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.

More from Merriam-Webster on destitute

Nglish: Translation of destitute for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of destitute for Arabic Speakers


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