im·​pov·​er·​ish | \ im-ˈpäv-rish How to pronounce impoverish (audio) , -ˈpä-və- \
impoverished; impoverishing; impoverishes

Definition of impoverish

transitive verb

1 : to make poor
2 : to deprive of strength, richness, or fertility by depleting or draining of something essential

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from impoverish

impoverisher noun
impoverishment \ im-​ˈpäv-​rish-​mənt How to pronounce impoverishment (audio) , -​ˈpä-​və-​ \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for impoverish

deplete, drain, exhaust, impoverish, bankrupt mean to deprive of something essential to existence or potency. deplete implies a reduction in number or quantity so as to endanger the ability to function. depleting our natural resources drain implies a gradual withdrawal and ultimate deprivation of what is necessary to an existence. personal tragedy had drained him of all spirit exhaust stresses a complete emptying. her lecture exhausted the subject impoverish suggests a deprivation of something essential to richness or productiveness. impoverished soil bankrupt suggests impoverishment to the point of imminent collapse. war had bankrupted the nation of resources

Examples of impoverish in a Sentence

The dictator enriched himself but impoverished his people. Poor farming practices impoverished the soil.
Recent Examples on the Web Tamara Qiblawi and Ghazi Balkiz report from Tripoli, where the lockdown has stoked resentment, fueled rumors of a government conspiracy to further impoverish the poor and ignited violent protests. Ivana Kottasová, CNN, "What you need to know about coronavirus on Saturday, May 2," 2 May 2020 President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, who came to power through a military coup—has pursued a bleaker approach that is keeping his state solvent by impoverishing his people. Anthony Bubalo, The New Republic, "The Perpetual Weakness of Middle East Despots," 17 Mar. 2020 At a minimum, the charts predicted that 100,000 to 240,000 Americans would die — and only if the nation abided by stringent social restrictions that would choke the economy and impoverish millions. Peter Baker, New York Times, "Trump Confronts a New Reality Before an Expected Wave of Disease and Death," 1 Apr. 2020 Cattle ranching, which has been intensifying across the savanna, can lead to overgrazing, eroding and impoverishing the soil and helping shrubs invade the grasslands. Erik Stokstad, Science | AAAS, "Rootin’, poopin’ African elephants help keep soil fertile," 1 Apr. 2020 Be careful that you are not being convinced to impoverish yourself merely to enrich someone else. Virginia Hammerle, Dallas News, "Planning a must: Medicaid and paying for nursing homes," 15 Mar. 2020 Are a wave of subpoenas about to impoverish thousands of bitcoin miners across New York, and the globe? David Z. Morris, Fortune, "This man got bitcoin to confess to a $13.8 million judgment. Sort of.," 12 Feb. 2020 For them, sectarian power-sharing is bound together with corruption and mismanagement that has impoverished them and left infrastructure so decrepit that power outages hit every day. Washington Post, "Hopes of young Lebanese to escape sectarianism put to test," 9 Nov. 2019 Its mostly Arab population is opposed to Assad, angry with years of neglect that impoverished the area despite its resource wealth. Washington Post, "For east Syria, US troops are about much more than oil," 8 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'impoverish.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of impoverish

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for impoverish

Middle English enpoverisshen, from Anglo-French empoveriss-, stem of empoverir, from en- + povre poor — more at poor

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about impoverish

Time Traveler for impoverish

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for impoverish

Last Updated

21 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Impoverish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for impoverish


How to pronounce impoverish (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of impoverish

: to make (someone) poor
: to use up the strength or richness of (something, such as land)


im·​pov·​er·​ish | \ im-ˈpä-və-rish How to pronounce impoverish (audio) \
impoverished; impoverishing

Kids Definition of impoverish

1 : to make poor The greedy tyrant impoverished his people.
2 : to use up the strength or richness of impoverished soil

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on impoverish

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!