in·​di·​gent ˈin-di-jənt How to pronounce indigent (audio)
: suffering from extreme poverty : impoverished
archaic : deficient
archaic : totally lacking in something specified
indigent noun

Examples of indigent in a Sentence

… every day, I fled the house and drove aimlessly over mountain roads that passed by indigent farms and strange, unpainted churches. Mark Singer, New Yorker, 25 Dec. 2000 & 1 Jan. 2001
A land post was offered him in November, 1765, as Governor of Greenwich Hospital, a shelter for disabled and indigent seamen and a place affording many openings for jobbery (the contemporary term for bureaucratic graft). Barbara W. Tuchman, The First Salute, 1988
He went around climbing dark stairs and knocking on doors and taking flash photos of indigent families in their dwellings. E. L. Doctorow, Ragtime, (1974) 1975
Because he was indigent, the court appointed a lawyer to defend him. The clinic provides free care for indigent patients.
Recent Examples on the Web At the turn of the millennium, about a third of Brazil’s population languished beneath the international poverty line (surviving on $2 a day), and about 15 percent was indigent (living on less than $1.25 a day). Jonathan Tepperman, Foreign Affairs, 14 Dec. 2015 Civil pro bono case for indigent client in nursing home ⦁ Facts: 89 year-old woman suffered a stroke that caused brain injury and was placed in a nursing home for end-of-life care. Lourdes Casanova, Sun Sentinel, 26 June 2024 Listen to this article A Transportation Security Administration agent from the Bronx stole a nearly $23,000 government paycheck sent to a defense lawyer who represented an indigent client, federal prosecutors allege. John Annese, New York Daily News, 16 Apr. 2024 County officials warn that this could mean a shrinking of the region’s social safety net, forcing them to claw back support for indigent defendants, low-income families and teenagers aging out of foster care. Rebecca Ellis, Los Angeles Times, 25 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for indigent 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'indigent.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Middle French, from Old French, from Latin indigent-, indigens, present participle of indigēre to need, from Old Latin indu + Latin egēre to need; perhaps akin to Old High German echerode poor

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of indigent was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near indigent

Cite this Entry

“Indigent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


in·​di·​gent ˈin-di-jənt How to pronounce indigent (audio)

Legal Definition


in·​di·​gent ˈin-də-jənt How to pronounce indigent (audio)
: suffering from indigence
the indigent defendant was provided with counsel
indigent noun

More from Merriam-Webster on indigent

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