im·​pov·​er·​ish | \im-ˈpäv-rish, -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, -​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

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 Moody’s says in a crisis wealthy countries in theory can tolerate lower social benefits because that doesn’t impoverish people. Greg Ip, WSJ, "U.S. Fiscal Future Won’t Be Like Its Carefree Past," 28 Mar. 2018 Episodes from Haitian history are interspersed throughout—from Columbus’s fateful landing in 1492 to the slave trade and the deforestation that has impoverished the island. Elizabeth Winkler, WSJ, "‘The Gospel of Trees’ Review: Mission to Haiti," 23 Mar. 2018 Many men were routinely spending a good portion of that money on alcohol, further impoverishing their families. Kai Schultz, New York Times, "Speeding Car Plows Into Students in India, Killing at Least 9," 24 Feb. 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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Time Traveler for impoverish

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

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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 \
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

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


to enclose within walls

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