pau·​per ˈpȯ-pər How to pronounce pauper (audio)
: a person destitute of means except such as are derived from charity
specifically : one who receives aid from funds designated for the poor
paupers on welfare
: a very poor person
you'll end up a pauper on skid row Robert Bixby
pauperism noun

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Money buys talent – both coaches and players – and Auburn is no pauper. Blake Toppmeyer, USA TODAY, 23 Nov. 2022 Athletics directors essentially have three job duties: hire coaches, fire coaches and play the pauper while passing the hat. Blake Toppmeyer, USA TODAY, 5 Oct. 2022 Or live like an abject pauper and park in the driveway. Ray Magliozzi, San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 June 2022 De León noted that when Villaraigosa beat incumbent Hahn in 2005, Hahn was a pauper compared with Caruso. Steve Lopezcolumnist, Los Angeles Times, 28 May 2022 Touching on the completely unhinged nature of the privileged and the pauper when pushed to the brink, social structures are called into question, the elite and working-class each struggling to avoid collateral damage. Holly Jones, Variety, 2 Apr. 2022 Miles, the eldest, is a top lawyer and yuppie who becomes a drug addict and pauper, then turns his life around and becomes a state senator. Mark Greif, The Atlantic, 15 Mar. 2022 No one was charged with Randolph’s murder and his body was buried in an unmarked grave in the pauper’s cemetery of the local almshouse. Clint Smith, The Atlantic, 2 Feb. 2022 If the ashes are not picked up, the county buries them together in a single pauper’s grave. Justin Ray, Los Angeles Times, 1 Dec. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pauper.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Latin, poor — more at poor

First Known Use

1516, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of pauper was in 1516

Dictionary Entries Near pauper

Cite this Entry

“Pauper.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



pau·​per ˈpȯ-pər How to pronounce pauper (audio)
: a very poor person
especially : one supported by charity
pauperism noun

Legal Definition



pau·​per ˈpȯ-pər How to pronounce pauper (audio)
: a person who is destitute and relying on charity
specifically : a person who is relieved of the costs and expenses of a court proceeding because of poverty

More from Merriam-Webster on pauper

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.