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

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Let China cope with the double-dealing, back-stabbing, perpetually indigent Pakistani government. Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, 30 Aug. 2021 Moira Buckley, who represents indigent criminal defendants in the federal courts as an attorney with the Office of Federal Public Defender in Hartford. Edmund H. Mahony,, 13 Sep. 2021 Much of the hearing focused on Judge Jackson and Ms. Jackson-Akiwumi, both Black women who have experience as federal public defenders representing indigent criminal defendants. Brent Kendall, WSJ, 29 Apr. 2021 Bond king Bill Gross and über free-markets economist Milton Friedman have both argued for some form of a minimum income aimed at indigent Americans. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, 16 May 2020 Her father, a psychologist, spent his career designing government programs for people who couldn’t afford doctor care, including Native Americans and indigent youth. Nicholas Florko, STAT, 14 May 2020 Most criminal defendants are indigent when they are arrested. Patricia Mazzei, New York Times, 27 Apr. 2020 Some of the families are indigent, some of them don't know where the insurance is. Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press, 17 Apr. 2020 And their share of the expense of providing healthcare to the indigent via Medicaid. Los Angeles Times, 23 Apr. 2020

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.

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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

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

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Last Updated

23 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Indigent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jan. 2022.

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English Language Learners Definition of indigent

: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on indigent

Nglish: Translation of indigent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of indigent for Arabic Speakers


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