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 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 Blind Lemon Jefferson’s lyrics covered the spectrum of human suffering, as mundane as mosquito bites and as crushing as destitution or incarceration. Jonny Auping, Longreads, "The Proving Grounds: Charley Crockett and the Story of Deep Ellum," 10 Aug. 2020 The humane long-term solution to destitution isn’t just offering shelter and other assistance, although these are essential. Krista Kafer, The Denver Post, "Kafer: Homeless encampments near Capitol, Morey must go for everyone’s sake," 24 July 2020 Almost all of the cardamom farms in Alta Verapaz are minuscule operations run by Guatemalans of Mayan heritage, some as small as individual plots worked by families one poor harvest from destitution. Max Falkowitz, Saveur, "Meet the Farmer Shaking Up the Guatemalan Cardamom Trade," 28 Nov. 2018 The patent came only after a decade of experimentation and, at times, destitution and debtors prison, but his success saved a foundering industry and paved the way for clothing, life rafts, and, eventually automobile tires., "This day in history," 15 June 2020 There is rampant unemployment, bankruptcies, destitution and hopelessness. Fernando “fritz” Riveron, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Opinion: The pandemic is costing Wisconsin billions of dollars. Let's open up thoughtfully - and fight this scourge.," 7 May 2020 But by the end of the year, experts say, the wave of unemployment brought by virus lockdowns could help send at least half a billion people into destitution, increasing global poverty for the first time since 1998. 6. David Scull, New York Times, "Reopening, Joe Biden, Antarctica: Your Thursday Evening Briefing," 30 Apr. 2020 The speed of China’s recovery from Mao-era destitution may also be relevant. The Economist, "As China puts on weight, type-2 diabetes is soaring," 12 Dec. 2019

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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for destitution

Last Updated

18 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Destitution.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2020.

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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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