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

Definition of indigent

1 : suffering from extreme poverty : impoverished
2a archaic : deficient
b archaic : totally lacking in something specified

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from indigent

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Nacke formerly served as an assistant public defender and handled murder cases for indigent people. Stephen Hudak,, "Circuit Judge Mark Nacke, advocate for Lake County's Veteran Treatment Court, to step down July 31," 21 June 2018 Because Eubank was found indigent, the court would cover the cost of the investigator, Pierce said. Kaylee Remington,, "Attorneys for Coventry Township woman accused of dismembering husband want their own investigator," 6 Feb. 2018 Airone said regulators have told him that, without legislative changes, the taxes would apply to the full value of cannabis given to the sick and indigent. Peter Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle, "California’s new marijuana regimen leaves out neediest patients, advocates say," 20 Mar. 2018 And state and local officials are finding ways to allow indigent people to avoid falling into a cycle of debt and incarceration. Jon Schuppe, NBC News, "Debtors’ prison: ACLU report details ‘criminalization of private debt’," 21 Feb. 2018 Suntha, who cited the hospital's 136-year history of providing indigent care in Baltimore, said the woman's insurance coverage or ability to pay played no role in the decision to discharge her. The Washington Post,, "Video of hospital patient put out in the cold stirs fury," 12 Jan. 2018 Only a relatively small number of indigent litigants end up in civil courts annually, San Diego Superior Court Executive Officer Michael Roddy said. Greg Moran,, "State high court strikes down rule requiring poor to pay for own court reporter in civil courts," 6 July 2018 Several elected Democrats have supported the indigent defendants’ position, including District Attorney Kim Ogg and Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. Gabrielle Banks, Houston Chronicle, "Federal judge on landmark Harris County bail suit implements revisions to policy," 29 June 2018 The in-person meeting that indigent detainees get with those project lawyers is their first contact, sometimes after weeks or months in jail. Liz Robbins, New York Times, "New Yorkers Facing Deportation Lose Their (Physical) Day in Court," 27 June 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for indigent

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about indigent

Statistics for indigent

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for indigent

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for indigent



English Language Learners Definition of indigent

formal : lacking money : very poor


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

Legal Definition of indigent

: suffering from indigence the indigent defendant was provided with counsel

Other Words from indigent

indigent noun

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on indigent

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for indigent

Spanish Central: Translation of indigent

Nglish: Translation of indigent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of indigent for Arabic Speakers

Comments on indigent

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


likely to have or produce good results

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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!