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

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 In desperately poor Afghanistan, the ban seems certain to further impoverish its poorest citizens at a time when the country is in an economic free fall. Los Angeles Times, 4 Apr. 2022 But others have been persuaded that any changes to pensions will impoverish the elderly, and are understandably worried — in other words, the electorate has as little trust in Illinois’ Republican legislators as in Democrats. Elizabeth Bauer, Forbes, 13 May 2021 Awarding damages for mere mistakes would impoverish debate, the court ruled. The Economist, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 1 Apr. 2020 See More

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.

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

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Cite this Entry

“Impoverish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for impoverish


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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