pen·​ni·​less | \ ˈpe-ni-ləs How to pronounce penniless (audio) \

Definition of penniless

: destitute of money

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Examples of penniless in a Sentence

She was unemployed and penniless. went from being a penniless girl to owner of her own restaurant
Recent Examples on the Web The villagers knew that Noelline had her own giambillys, or lovers on the side, notably a handsome cabdriver from Saint Grimaud, a métis who was said to beat his penniless French mother. Andrea Lee, The New Yorker, "The Rivals," 28 Dec. 2020 She wanders, penniless and desolate, unable to rent a room or hold a job or depend upon the kindness of strangers. Ellen Morton, Washington Post, "V.E. Schwab delivers another compulsively readable novel with ‘The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue’," 7 Oct. 2020 Jack ended his misspent youth by abandoning a penniless country girl pregnant with his baby, who died when just a toddler. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "‘Jack’ Review: Far From the Fold," 25 Sep. 2020 The priest promptly deserted her, leaving her dishonored, penniless and with few prospects for employment — one of many hard-up newcomers hoping to make good in the city. Marjoleine Kars, Star Tribune, "Review: 'Stranger in the Shogun's City,' by Amy Stanley," 31 Aug. 2020 Most are undocumented, and the mass shutting of restaurants, hair salons and other businesses leaves many of them penniless and facing eviction. Souhail Karam,, "Virus Lockdowns Confront Billions Working in the Shadow Economy," 31 Mar. 2020 But their marital bliss quickly dissolves into sheer chaos when Grace realises that her new groom is nothing but a two-bit grifter; Shannon has committed fraud in Grace’s name, leaving her penniless and facing jail time. Ineye Komonibo,, "Tyler Perry Knows Exactly What He’s Doing With His Films," 24 Jan. 2020 Christian, a penniless composer from Ohio, falls for Satine, the sultry star of the Moulin Rouge. Andrea Simakis, cleveland, "‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ ‘Hadestown’ and ‘The Cher Show’ among the highlights of Playhouse Square 2020-21 KeyBank Broadway Series," 3 Mar. 2020 Alvaro, younger than Serafina and penniless, is passionate but unheroic, and Serafina, used to a blunter kind of masculinity, can’t make up her mind about him. Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker, "American Dreams in “The Rose Tattoo” and “Soft Power”," 21 Oct. 2019

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

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for penniless

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for penniless

Last Updated

8 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Penniless.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for penniless


How to pronounce penniless (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of penniless

: having no money : very poor


pen·​ni·​less | \ ˈpe-ni-ləs How to pronounce penniless (audio) \

Kids Definition of penniless

: very poor : having no money

More from Merriam-Webster on penniless

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for penniless

Nglish: Translation of penniless for Spanish Speakers

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