\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

People are poor and that’s a very sad thing, and government can focus on that. Jay Greene, WSJ, "Steve Ballmer’s Bid for an Educated Citizenry," 12 Nov. 2018 At first the mouse’s precision was poor and software hadn’t yet figured out how to smartly utilize the new technology. Rani Molla, Recode, "Voice tech like Alexa and Siri hasn’t found its true calling yet: Inside the voice assistant ‘revolution’," 12 Nov. 2018 Battery life was also poor on many Windows laptops compared to the MacBook Air, and while some like Dell’s Adamo managed to beat the thinness of the MacBook Air, none managed to beat the whole package for more than five years. Tom Warren, The Verge, "Apple’s new MacBook Air faces strong Windows and iPad competition," 4 Nov. 2018 Jason has been an outspoken critic of voter ID laws and their consequences, particularly for voters who are poor, African-American, Latinx, or elderly. Lauren Young, Teen Vogue, "“Cap, Gown, Vote!” Is Helping to Register Eligible High School Students to Vote," 14 Sep. 2018 If the air quality in your area is poor, stay inside as much as possible. Korin Miller, SELF, "How to Stay Safe When Your City’s Air Quality Is Dangerous," 21 Aug. 2018 In the shootout, his penalty was poor, nervously prodded straight down the middle. Jonathan Wilson, SI.com, "Luka Modric's Croatia Success Story Comes With Complications," 13 July 2018 Looking backward: The Stelvio’s rear window is small and sits at a sharp angle, so the view behind is pretty poor. Scott Sturgis, Philly.com, "2018 Stelvio rounds out the Alfa Romeo lineup," 12 July 2018 The audio quality of hands-free phone calls is very poor. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, "Review: 2019 Jetta is Volkswagen’s best compact sedan," 12 July 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

16 Nov 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

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