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

Even in Mulvaney's old district, there are pockets of extreme destitution. Jonathan Allen, NBC News, "Trump puts minorities in his 'basket of deplorables'," 29 July 2019 Second, the big gap between market income and consumption spending thrown up by the new research suggests that safety net programmes are doing their job of keeping people from utter destitution. The Economist, "How many Americans live on $2 a day?," 20 June 2019 At adventure’s end, a crusty Nevada settler points out, clairvoyantly, that although Powell will live on in fame, most of his intrepid crew will die in destitution and obscurity. Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘Men on Boats’ puts women at the helm of this thrill ride," 16 July 2019 The upper classes, meanwhile, were shocked by the destitution. Marlo Safi, National Review, "A Raw Look at the New ‘Other Half’," 29 June 2019 Those earlier estimates of extreme poverty, suggestive of widespread destitution, prompted Angus Deaton, a Nobel prize-winning economist, to propose redirecting US foreign aid to America’s poorest people. The Economist, "How many Americans live on $2 a day?," 20 June 2019 To be sure, the PRC has lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese from the levels of destitution that existed prior to the economic liberalizations under Deng Xiaoping and his successors. Therese Shaheen, National Review, "China’s ‘New Long March’," 5 June 2019 In his speech that April of 1875, the great Frederick Douglass declared this: The world has never seen any people turned loose to such destitution as were the four million slaves of the South. Mitchell S. Jackson, Harper's magazine, "Opportunity Cost," 10 Feb. 2019 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

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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Last Updated

16 Aug 2019

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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).


not constant or steady

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