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 impoverish (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 Awarding damages for mere mistakes would impoverish debate, the court ruled. The Economist, "Not gonna lie A timely diagnosis of the problem of rampant dishonesty," 18 Mar. 2021 In truth, the sacrifices some families made to shoulder their debt burden underscores the folly of forcing families to impoverish themselves to attain higher education. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Canceling student debt should be a slam dunk. Here’s why," 2 Dec. 2020 The three countries of Central America’s impoverished Northern Triangle have extremely small asylum processing offices, but Wolf said the U.S. is working to expand their ability to process and care for asylum seekers. Robert Moore, Washington Post, "New acting Homeland Security secretary, Chad Wolf, visits border in El Paso," 21 Nov. 2019 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

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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for impoverish

Last Updated

25 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Impoverish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 May. 2021.

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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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Comments on impoverish

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