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

Definition of penniless

: destitute of money

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 Thanks to an ugly family battle over his inheritance, Gareth is on the verge of becoming penniless, and the diary—and by extension Hyacinth—is his only hope. Emma Dibdin, Town & Country, 9 Apr. 2022 The father is a gambling addict in poor health; the brother is penniless yet sure of his talent as a medium. Lise Pedersen, Variety, 15 Mar. 2022 By the time of her death in 1946, Smith was reportedly penniless, without even a tombstone to mark her grave in Staten Island, New York. Charles Trepany, USA TODAY, 14 Feb. 2022 But sanitation experts think that in the era of climate change, when droughts and floods are becoming increasingly common, the West may have something to learn from the little waterless loos piloted in penniless Madagascan neighbourhoods. Cheri Lucas Rowlands, Longreads, 28 Aug. 2015 Because landowners were the only ones permitted to have children, women farm workers were largely single, penniless and even more dependent on landowners than their male counterparts. Elizabeth Heath, Smithsonian Magazine, 8 Feb. 2022 Lola, the midget pony, drops into Colette’s dressing room each night for a drink of water, while Bastienne, the penniless ballerina, breast-feeds her baby in the corner. Celia Imrie, WSJ, 14 Jan. 2022 When Sanna begins a relationship with Marcus, the penniless son of a nearby farmer, her father issues an ultimatum — leave Marcus or lose her inheritance. Elsa Keslassy, Variety, 23 Jan. 2022 First comes the news that their irresponsible brother, Henry, has died, and his penniless daughter, Marian (Louisa Jacobson), is coming to live with them. San Diego Union-Tribune, 21 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of penniless

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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

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Last Updated

14 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Penniless.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for penniless


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

Nglish: Translation of penniless for Spanish Speakers


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