poor·​house ˈpu̇r-ˌhau̇s How to pronounce poorhouse (audio)
: a place maintained at public expense to house needy or dependent persons

Examples of poorhouse in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Brains have surfaced from northern European peat bogs, Andean mountaintops, shipwrecks, desert tombs and Victorian poorhouses. Katie Hunt, CNN, 25 Mar. 2024 Diedrichs left town by 1863, and was said to have died years later in a New York poorhouse. Genevieve Redsten, Journal Sentinel, 9 June 2023 One 1909 report describes a Virginia poorhouse warden who stopped an older woman from wandering by anchoring her with a twenty-eight-pound ball and chain. Marion Renault, The New Yorker, 23 Nov. 2022 When Marla Carter visits her mother-in-law at a nursing home in Owensboro, Kentucky, the scene feels more 19th-century poorhouse than modern-day America. Matt Sedensky, Chicago Tribune, 15 Mar. 2023 House Republican counsel can outspend them into the poorhouse by obliging them to personally pay for private lawyers. Charles Tiefer, Forbes, 23 Feb. 2023 His own father had grown up in Newburgh’s poorhouse. Zach Helfand, The New Yorker, 6 June 2022 Her career lasted only a decade, but Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876-1907) painted more than 500 canvases, including moody landscapes, wry self-portraits and careful studies of children, old people and the residents of a local poorhouse. Amy Crawford, Smithsonian Magazine, 19 Nov. 2021 Your bottom dollar puts you in the poorhouse, but a pretty penny buys you a mansion. Casey Cep, The New Yorker, 28 July 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'poorhouse.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1579, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of poorhouse was circa 1579

Dictionary Entries Near poorhouse

poor farm



Cite this Entry

“Poorhouse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/poorhouse. Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


poor·​house ˈpu̇(ə-)r-ˌhau̇s How to pronounce poorhouse (audio)
: a place maintained at public expense to house poor people
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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