\ ˈpu̇r , ˈpȯr \

Definition of poor 

1a : lacking material possessions

b : of, relating to, or characterized by poverty

2a : less than adequate : meager

b : small in worth

3 : exciting pity you poor thing

4a : inferior in quality or value

b : humble, unpretentious

c : mean, petty

6 : barren, unproductive used of land

8 : lacking a normal or adequate supply of something specified often used in combination oil-poor countries

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Other words from poor

poorish \ˈpu̇r-ish, ˈpȯr- \ adjective
poorness noun

Examples of poor in a Sentence

We were too poor to buy new clothes. The organization helps poor families. She has a poor vocabulary. It was a poor attempt at a joke. He is in poor condition. She couldn't read the sign because her vision was too poor.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The effect was concentrated among those from poor families, and was not seen in the parents. Kevin Lewis, BostonGlobe.com, "Electoral impacts of robot workers," 13 July 2018 Born into a poor family of tatami-mat makers, the legally blind Asahara drew thousands of followers into his sect, which prophesied an imminent Armageddon in which its followers would seize power and achieve salvation. Author: Stuart Biggs, Gearoid Reidy, Anchorage Daily News, "Japan executes cult leader and 6 others for deadly 1995 sarin attack," 6 July 2018 Girls from poor rural families fare especially badly. The Economist, "Universal lessons," 5 July 2018 The yellow stick was a banana, a fruit that the poor family had never seen or tasted. Rafia Zakaria, New York Times, "The Woman Whose Hair Frightens Iran," 3 July 2018 In fact, the one constant thread woven throughout American democracy is that white Americans’ track records regarding matters of racial and democratic equality is poor. Nicholas T. Davis And Steven Miller, Vox, "Racism and authoritarianism go hand in hand," 2 July 2018 In Miranda state, no poor families at all had water more often that. Patricia Laya, Bloomberg.com, "The Army Took Over the Spigots, Forcing Thirsty Venezuelans to Pay," 25 June 2018 But the union chief, who also represents a coalition of service providers and other advocates for working-poor families called Invest in San Diego Families, said he is disappointed the county will not fund a program for refugees and immigrants. Jeff Mcdonald, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Flush with cash, San Diego County is poised to adopt its biggest budget in history," 25 June 2018 Poverty During the early 1900s, states sometimes pulled children from poor families and placed them in orphanages. Russell Contreras, chicagotribune.com, "Other times in history when the U.S. separated families," 20 June 2018

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

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for poor

Middle English poure, from Anglo-French povre, pore, from Latin pauper; akin to Latin paucus little and to Latin parere to give birth to, produce — more at few, pare

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Statistics for poor

Last Updated

21 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for poor

The first known use of poor was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for poor



English Language Learners Definition of poor

: having little money or few possessions : not having enough money for the basic things that people need to live properly

: having a very small amount of something

: not good in quality or condition


\ ˈpu̇r \
poorer; poorest

Kids Definition of poor

1 : having little money or few possessions

2 : less than enough a poor crop

3 : worthy of pity The poor dog was lost.

4 : low in quality or condition poor health a poor effort

Other words from poor

poorly adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on poor

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for poor

Spanish Central: Translation of poor

Nglish: Translation of poor for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of poor for Arabic Speakers

Comments on poor

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


an open space surrounded by woods

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