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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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.

See More

First Known Use of indigence

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about indigence

Listen to Our Podcast about indigence

Statistics for indigence

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for indigence

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for indigence


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

Legal Definition of indigence

: impoverished hardship and deprivation

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on indigence

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


a small bunch of flowers

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!