destitute

adjective
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

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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 First established in 1886 as a home for destitute children, the center’s mission shifted over the decades to providing residential treatment, then family therapy and mental health services. Lauren Caruba, ExpressNews.com, "After financial challenges, San Antonio children’s mental health center moves forward," 29 Nov. 2019 Police said the gang, allegedly led by a Greek lawyer and an obstetrician, recruited destitute pregnant women in Bulgaria and paid them up to 5,000 euros to sell their babies to childless Greek couples. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Greek police dismantle ‘birth industry’ that sold babies," 25 Sep. 2019 In Los Angeles and San Francisco, the crisis is especially acute, with destitute people and pitiful tent encampments crowding the sidewalks. Washington Post, Orange County Register, "This columnist thinks California is in big trouble. The fix? Kill Prop 13!," 22 Oct. 2019 Living with his destitute mother, a young man in Detroit tries to overcome obstacles and achieve success as a rapper. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week Sept. 1 - 7, 2019: John Wayne in ‘The Searchers’ and more," 30 Aug. 2019 The wartime boom provided Skid Row residents with temporary employment, but when the shipyard jobs vanished, many ended up destitute again. Gary Kamiya, SFChronicle.com, "SF ‘hobohemia’ transformed into Skid Row as jobs and city changed," 10 Aug. 2019 In retrospect, the fevered discourse about New England’s class of destitute factory workers reveals how little chattering classes in the U.S. knew their neighbors—a people whose presence in North America preceded Plymouth Rock. David Vernette, Smithsonian, "When an Influx of French-Canadian Immigrants Struck Fear Into Americans," 21 Aug. 2019 Economic migrants—the destitute millions with time to plan ahead—seem to favor the shoe of the 21st century’s poor: the cheap, unisex, multipurpose Chinese sneaker. Paul Salopek, National Geographic, "A storyteller chronicles the mass migrations that define our age," 17 July 2019 Hundreds of thousands were left destitute and moved to the cities to start over. The Economist, "Myanmar’s countryside is emptying and its cities bursting," 11 July 2019

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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Time Traveler for destitute

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

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Statistics for destitute

Last Updated

5 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Destitute.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/destituteness. Accessed 5 December 2019.

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More Definitions for destitute

destitute

adjective
How to pronounce destitute (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of destitute

: extremely poor
formal + literary : without something that is needed or wanted

destitute

adjective
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.

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