des·​ti·​tu·​tion | \ ˌde-stə-ˈtü-shən How to pronounce destitution (audio) , -ˈtyü- \

Definition of destitution

: the state of being destitute especially : such extreme want as threatens life unless relieved

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Choose the Right Synonym for destitution

poverty, indigence, penury, want, destitution mean the state of one with insufficient resources. poverty may cover a range from extreme want of necessities to an absence of material comforts. the extreme poverty of the slum dwellers indigence implies seriously straitened circumstances. the indigence of her years as a graduate student penury suggests a cramping or oppressive lack of money. a catastrophic illness that condemned them to years of penury want and destitution imply extreme poverty that threatens life itself through starvation or exposure. lived in a perpetual state of want the widespread destitution in countries beset by famine

Examples of destitution in a Sentence

widespread destitution in Third World countries
Recent Examples on the Web Many people have heard about the violence, the lawlessness and the destitution that provoke these people to enter the United States. New York Times, "Their Lawsuit Prevented 400,000 Deportations. Now It’s Biden’s Call.," 7 Apr. 2021 These people – mostly workers in the hospitality and leisure industries, disproportionately low-income and people of color – are in desperate need of aid and support, without which destitution and homelessness are real possibilities. Kenneth Mitchell, The Conversation, "Economists: Biden’s $1,400 COVID-19 checks may be great politics, but it’s questionable economics," 8 Mar. 2021 Never before in the country’s history has destitution come anywhere close to being eliminated. The Economist, "Extreme poverty is history in China, officials say," 30 Dec. 2020 The economic destitution of Palestinians is self-perpetuated by corruption, rigidity, and radicalism. David Harsanyi, National Review, "Raphael Warnock’s Blood Libel," 13 Nov. 2020 Many of those factories are in low-wage countries around Asia where workers may live on the brink of destitution. Marc Bain, Quartz, "Fashion companies want cheaper goods—and it’s garment workers who are paying," 22 Oct. 2020 If this effort succeeds, our research shows workers in the online grocery industry could face financial hardship, hunger, and even destitution. Amos Toh, Wired, "Grocery App Workers' Rights Are Under Siege," 1 Oct. 2020 The abject moral destitution and thuggish intimidation tactics of these education cartels are at least as widespread as death and taxation. Cameron Hilditch, National Review, "The Case for Private Education Co-operatives," 9 Sep. 2020 Simply put, access to high-capacity wells can make the difference between prosperity or destitution for Wisconsin farmers. Ryan J. Owens, National Review, "A Constitutional Affront by Wisconsin’s Attorney General," 14 Sep. 2020

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

15th century, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for destitution

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The first known use of destitution was in the 15th century

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Statistics for destitution

Last Updated

16 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Destitution.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for destitution


des·​ti·​tu·​tion | \ ˌde-stə-ˈtü-shən How to pronounce destitution (audio) , -ˈtyü- \

Kids Definition of destitution

: the condition of being very poor

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