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 impecunious (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 Among them is the sardonic confidant, St. Quentin; the down-at-the heels military man, Major Brutt; and the impecunious, high-living chancer, Eddie. Washington Post, 7 May 2021 When that diversity eventually dwindled, as foreign investors and the banking class overtook the impecunious artistic one, Manhattan club life began to lose some of its vigor. Guy Trebay, Town & Country, 3 Dec. 2020 Salary cuts serve as the first step in giving needed cash to already impecunious Division I athletic departments, like Mid-American Conference schools in Michigan, that could otherwise see their programs crumble. Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press, 3 May 2020 Private-equity firms, which have mountains of committed investor cash, may start buying up fundamentally sound but impecunious suppliers in various industries, aware that when demand returns such companies will see its first fruits. The Economist, 8 Apr. 2020 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, 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, 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, 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, 21 June 2018

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

21 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Impecunious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jun. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of impecunious

formal : having little or no money

More from Merriam-Webster on impecunious

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for impecunious

Nglish: Translation of impecunious for Spanish Speakers


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