im·​pe·​cu·​nious | \ ˌim-pi-ˈkyü-nyəs How to pronounce impecunious (audio) , -nē-əs\

Definition of impecunious

: having very little or no money usually habitually : penniless

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Other Words from impecunious

impecuniosity \ ˌim-​pi-​ˌkyü-​nē-​ˈä-​sə-​tē How to pronounce impecuniosity (audio) \ noun
impecuniously adverb
impecuniousness noun

Did You Know?

If impecunious means "penniless," then it stands to reason that "pecunious" can describe someone who has a lot of money. That is true, but "pecunious" is used with far less frequency in English than its opposite and is not found in many dictionaries. What's more, on the rare occasion when "pecunious" is put to use in English, it often means not "wealthy" but "miserly or ungenerous," as in "a pecunious attitude toward the less fortunate." "Impecunious" describes somebody who lacks the money to buy necessities, but it does not carry the connotation of desperation found in such words as "indigent" or "destitute." Both "pecunious" and "impecunious" derive via Middle English from the Latin pecunia, meaning "money."

Examples of impecunious in a Sentence

they were so impecunious that they couldn't afford to give one another even token Christmas gifts
Recent Examples on the Web Nat is a 46-year-old Londoner, the son of an impecunious Scottish aristocrat and a Russian exiled to Paris, who for the entirety of his career has worked for Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "John le Carré’s Scathing Tale of Brexit Britain," 26 Oct. 2019 The son of an impecunious Prussian high-school teacher, Helmholtz originally wanted to be a physicist, but economic necessity led him to become an army surgeon. Peter Pesic, WSJ, "‘Helmholtz’ Review: He Saw Further and Heard More," 22 Nov. 2018 Tyndall’s life began humbly, in a respectable but impecunious Irish family whose Protestant roots shaped his lifelong opposition to home rule. Peter Pesic, WSJ, "‘The Ascent of John Tyndall’ Review: Science at the Summit," 9 Aug. 2018 Lord Dundonald, an impecunious earl with an inventive streak, patented the processing of smelting coke—a key development, converting coal to a nearly pure carbon state that produced an easy-to-work iron. Charles R. Morris, WSJ, "‘Energy’ Review: The Path to Power," 21 June 2018 To sum things up without any spoilers (though the big reveal comes not long into the play, so the term spoiler is relative), impecunious book scout Edmund (Stewart) is facing eviction. F. Kathleen Foley,, "In Atwater, a dark secret at the center of 'Forever Bound'," 25 May 2018 New Jersey, one of the most impecunious states in the union, was behind this week’s Supreme Court ruling overturning a federal ban on sports gambling. Holman Jenkins, WSJ, "Gambling Is Coming, So Get Ready to Hate Sports," 18 May 2018 But first, some background: Aged 29, ink-stained and impecunious, Stevenson rented a garret at the top of a boarding house in San Francisco from December 1879 to April 1880. Special To The Washington Post, The Denver Post, "Robert Louis Stevenson’s “lost novel” is a fantastic voyage," 31 Mar. 2017 I.T. specialists, professionals and retirees are descending on the town, squeezing out the more chilled-out — and impecunious — population. Tony Perrottet, New York Times, "36 Hours in Boulder, Colo. AUG. 18, 2016," 31 Aug. 2016

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

1596, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for impecunious

in- entry 1 + obsolete English pecunious rich, from Middle English, from Latin pecuniosus, from pecunia money — more at fee

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Time Traveler for impecunious

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The first known use of impecunious was in 1596

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Last Updated

19 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Impecunious.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 5 December 2019.

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More Definitions for impecunious


How to pronounce impecunious (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of impecunious

formal : having little or no money

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More from Merriam-Webster on impecunious

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for impecunious

Spanish Central: Translation of impecunious

Nglish: Translation of impecunious for Spanish Speakers

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