in·​di·​gence | \ ˈin-di-jən(t)s How to pronounce indigence (audio) \

Definition of indigence

: a level of poverty in which real hardship and deprivation are suffered and comforts of life are wholly lacking

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Choose the Right Synonym for indigence

poverty, indigence, penury, want, destitution mean the state of one with insufficient resources. poverty may cover a range from extreme want of necessities to an absence of material comforts. the extreme poverty of the slum dwellers indigence implies seriously straitened circumstances. the indigence of her years as a graduate student penury suggests a cramping or oppressive lack of money. a catastrophic illness that condemned them to years of penury want and destitution imply extreme poverty that threatens life itself through starvation or exposure. lived in a perpetual state of want the widespread destitution in countries beset by famine

Examples of indigence in a Sentence

there are various state and federal programs to help relieve indigence
Recent Examples on the Web Under Harris County’s rigid and misguided risk-assessment system, indicators of indigence received the same point values as a history of criminal violations or prior failures to appear in court. Gilbert Garcia,, "Garcia: District judge prods county courts to move on bail reform," 12 Feb. 2020 Amazing that a handful of ’em haven’t been assessed five-minute majors for loitering or indigence., "Time to spread wealth of Bruins’ top line - The Boston Globe," 21 Oct. 2019 If the prototypical American was white and middle class, and my parents’ Chinese accents and indigence marked them as irredeemably fresh off the boat, what chance was there for someone like me to achieve Americanness? Jiayang Fan, The New Yorker, "Constance Wu’s Hollywood Destiny," 16 Sep. 2019 Northwell prefers not to call the Food as Health Center a pantry, concerned that the term might connote indigence. Lucette Lagnado, WSJ, "Take Two Aspirin—and a Serving of Kale," 22 Oct. 2018 The indigence hearing to decide whether taxpayers should stop paying for his defense team will be held in the county. Faith Karimi, CNN, "Judge to determine if taxpayers should stop paying Nikolas Cruz's legal fees," 11 Apr. 2018 The redemption concerns a feckless pothead (Miles Teller) whose pregnant girlfriend has left him because of his indigence and dissolution. Andy Webster, New York Times, "Review: ‘Only the Brave’ Is an Inspiring Tale of Firefighter Sacrifice," 19 Oct. 2017 Payment was a democratic innovation to ensure that poor citizens would not be prevented from civic engagement by indigence. Nick Romeo, National Geographic, "What Modern Democracies Didn’t Copy From Ancient Greece," 4 Nov. 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'indigence.' 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 indigence

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of indigence was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Indigence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for indigence


in·​di·​gence | \ ˈin-də-jəns How to pronounce indigence (audio) \

Legal Definition of indigence

: impoverished hardship and deprivation

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