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

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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

What is certain is that the fires are newly impoverishing the farmers whose crops have been lost. Washington Post, "Mystery crop fires scorch thousands of acres in Syria and Iraq — and ISIS claims responsibility," 8 June 2019 In the Caribbean by providence impoverished In squalor, grow up to be a hero and a scholar? Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, "Got questions about 'Hamilton'? We break down the first song of the musical," 4 June 2019 But to be equally clear, our refusal to acknowledge the drug war’s ever-present failure, including our refusal to consider abolishing the DEA, impoverishes analysis and blinds us to possible alternatives. Kathleen Frydl, Vox, "Why we should abolish ICE — and the DEA too," 14 Aug. 2018 Extra protection for even the shortest snippets will impoverish the public sphere by discouraging the sharing of news. Glyn Moody, Ars Technica, "Illegal memes? Weak Safe Harbor? Unpacking the proposed EU copyright overhaul," 12 June 2018 The protesters, who blocked streets in the capital, called for an increased minimum wage, stronger unions and more equitable policies to help the state's impoverished. Edward Mckinley, kansascity, "Missouri Poor People's Campaign rallies in state capital after KC warmup; 76 arrested," 11 June 2018 The private sector has been progressively impoverishing American employees during the last few decades. Joe Davidson, Washington Post, "Trump’s aides defend pay freeze and retirement cuts, but raise questions," 10 May 2018 Though economic austerity programs rolled out by Mr. Sisi in cooperation with the International Monetary Fund have been painful, impoverishing many middle-class Egyptians amid rampant inflation, there have been virtually no protests. Yaroslav Trofimov, WSJ, "In Sisi’s Second Term, Opening or More Repression?," 26 Apr. 2018 Karl Marx famously argued that the enclosure of common agricultural lands for private grazing, shutting out and impoverishing the peasantry, created a supply of labor for industry in towns: the first proletariat. Heather Souvaine Horn, The New Republic, "A System in Denial," 16 Apr. 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for impoverish

Last Updated

19 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for impoverish

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

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More Definitions for impoverish



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

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More from Merriam-Webster on impoverish

Spanish Central: Translation of impoverish

Nglish: Translation of impoverish for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of impoverish for Arabic Speakers

Comments on impoverish

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behavior toward others

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