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

Yeah, the goal being, let’s alleviate the worst forms of destitution in low-income countries. Recode Staff, Recode, "Journalist and author Annie Lowrey wants you to understand that universal basic income isn’t crazy," 16 July 2018 The increasing visibility of homelessness and destitution contributes to the uneasy feeling that the problem is closing in on everyone. Paul Thornton,, "Homelessness in L.A.: A national disgrace that must be fixed," 3 Mar. 2018 Mr López Obrador will surely not plunge Mexico into tyranny and destitution the way Chávez did Venezuela. The Economist, "How Andrés Manuel López Obrador will remake Mexico," 23 June 2018 Yet, even amid the destitution, there are glimmers of economic development. The Economist, "The fight against Islamic State is moving to Africa," 14 July 2018 Few are designed to help households manage the private misfortunes—such as illness or the death of a family member—that can tip them into destitution. The Economist, "Ethiopia’s scheme to help the poor is setting an example," 31 May 2018 Of course, there's no reason to be surprised that Trump, or people willing to work for him, would on a whim decide to destroy the lives of thousands of people and needlessly expose them to destitution and violence. Luke Darby, GQ, "The Trump Administration Is Forcing Out Thousands of Immigrants Against Its Own Ambassadors’ Warnings," 9 May 2018 Best-known for fighting disease and destitution around the globe, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is now turning its attention homeward with a new initiative to help poor Americans move up the economic ladder. Sandi Doughton, The Seattle Times, "Gates Foundation pledges $158 million to fight poverty in U.S.," 3 May 2018 Emancipation freed slaves only from bondage, not from destitution; the Clotilda survivors had no way of paying for their passage home. Casey N. Cep, The New Yorker, "Zora Neale Hurston’s Story of a Former Slave Finally Comes to Print," 7 May 2018

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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Statistics for destitution

Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for destitution

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

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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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Comments on destitution

What made you want to look up destitution? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


highly pertinent or appropriate

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