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 The Census Bureau reported that California still has the highest level of functional poverty of any state, averaging 18.2% of its 40 million residents impoverished during the three preceding years. Dan Walters, The Mercury News, "Walters: California is still No. 1 in poverty," 15 Sep. 2019 The series shows the U.S. citizen who is willing to live in their partner’s country, which sometimes can be impoverished. Washington Post, "Marital bliss or nah: ‘90 Day Fiance’ becomes hit for TLC," 10 Sep. 2019 The series shows the U.S. citizen who is willing to live in their partner's country, which sometimes can be impoverished. Jonathan Landrum Jr.,, "Marital bliss or nah: ’90 Day Fiance’ becomes hit for TLC," 14 Sep. 2019 His description of a political party hollowed out by corruption, sanctimony and faux patriotism, determined to impoverish the working class in order to enrich its rich patrons, was as prescient a description of today’s GOP as a soothsayer’s. Michael Hiltzik,, "In Britain, will Trump absorb his hero Winston Churchill’s hatred of tariffs?," 3 June 2019 The harsh terms of the treaty purportedly embittered and impoverished the Germans. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "The Lessons of the Versailles Treaty," 25 July 2019 Since Mauritius became a tax haven, it has been criticized for impoverishing African governments and widening wealth inequality. Abdi Latif Dahir, Quartz Africa, "How an idyllic African island became a tax haven for some of the world’s biggest corporations," 23 July 2019 Bárcena argues that at the root of present tensions is a social and economic crisis in countries in Central America’s impoverished Northern Triangle — Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "Trump sees a border threat. Others see a crisis of conscience.," 8 July 2019 The point is that the sacrifices families made to shoulder their debt burden brought home the folly of forcing families to impoverish themselves to attain higher education. Michael Hiltzik,, "Eliminating student debt would be a terrific economic stimulus program," 24 June 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.

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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

4 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Impoverish.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 5 December 2019.

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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

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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

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