poverty

noun, often attributive
pov·​er·​ty | \ ˈpä-vər-tē How to pronounce poverty (audio) \

Definition of poverty

1a : the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions
b : renunciation as a member of a religious order of the right as an individual to own property
3a : debility due to malnutrition
b : lack of fertility

Keep scrolling for more

Choose the Right Synonym for poverty

poverty, indigence, penury, want, destitution mean the state of one with insufficient resources. poverty may cover a range from extreme want of necessities to an absence of material comforts. the extreme poverty of the slum dwellers indigence implies seriously straitened circumstances. the indigence of her years as a graduate student penury suggests a cramping or oppressive lack of money. a catastrophic illness that condemned them to years of penury want and destitution imply extreme poverty that threatens life itself through starvation or exposure. lived in a perpetual state of want the widespread destitution in countries beset by famine

Examples of poverty in a Sentence

He was born in poverty. There is a poverty of information about the disease.

Recent Examples on the Web

The organization supports families who experiencing poverty, disadvantage, or social isolation across the U.K., according to its official website. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Wears a Green Belted Midi Dress to Visit Family Action Charity," 22 Jan. 2019 Trillanes and opposition groups have dismissed the claim as a lie and asked him to focus instead on addressing poverty, inflation, rice shortages, traffic jams and a decline in the value of the peso currency. Jim Gomez, Fox News, "Philippine president's fiercest critic arrested, posts bail," 25 Sep. 2018 According to Ocasio-Cortez, Blanca lived in poverty in Puerto Rico and raised her siblings while her own mother worked. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Who Is Blanca Ocasio-Cortez, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Mom?," 31 Jan. 2019 More than half a million kids in the state—or 43%—live in census blocks at risk of being undercounted and one in five kids lived in poverty in 2016. Grace Donnelly, Fortune, "The 2020 Census: Do You Know Where The Children Are?," 27 June 2018 Think breadlines and grinding poverty in the cities and dust bowls in the agricultural areas. Michael Taylor, San Antonio Express-News, "Think the U.S. is at odds? Consider Greece.," 26 June 2018 Today, however, Appiah lives in relative poverty in Ghana, his dreams—and those of the coaches and institutions that invested in him—largely evaporated. Laurent Dubois, The Atlantic, "How Not to Scout for Soccer Talent," 14 June 2018 Back then, the story was about people fleeing war and grinding poverty in the Horn of Africa, and many dying along the way. Ben Wedeman, Gabriel Chaim And Waffa Munayyer, CNN, "A trek from poverty through a war zone they knew nothing about," 10 June 2018 That puts Lake in the bottom 25 in the ranking of children in poverty in the state. Lauren Ritchie, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Free lunches for all Lake students comes with a dose of bad news," 25 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'poverty.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of poverty

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for poverty

Middle English poverte, from Anglo-French poverté, from Latin paupertat-, paupertas, from pauper poor — more at poor

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about poverty

Dictionary Entries near poverty

pouty

POV

poverish

poverty

poverty grass

poverty line

poverty pine

Statistics for poverty

Last Updated

19 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for poverty

The first known use of poverty was in the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for poverty

poverty

noun

English Language Learners Definition of poverty

: the state of being poor
formal : a lack of something

poverty

noun
pov·​er·​ty | \ ˈpä-vər-tē How to pronounce poverty (audio) \

Kids Definition of poverty

: the condition of being poor : lack of money or possessions

poverty

noun
pov·​er·​ty | \ ˈpäv-ərt-ē How to pronounce poverty (audio) \
plural poverties

Medical Definition of poverty

: debility due to malnutrition evidence of poverty in calves

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on poverty

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

WORD OF THE DAY

not to be persuaded, moved, or stopped

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!