adjective squal·id \ ˈskwä-ləd \
|Updated on: 17 Jul 2018

Definition of squalid

1 : marked by filthiness and degradation from neglect or poverty
2 : sordid





Examples of squalid in a Sentence

  1. The family lived in squalid conditions.

Recent Examples of squalid from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of squalid

Latin squalidus rough, dirty, from squalēre to be covered with scales or dirt, from squalus dirty; perhaps akin to Latin squama scale

Synonym Discussion of squalid

dirty, filthy, foul, nasty, squalid mean conspicuously unclean or impure. dirty emphasizes the presence of dirt more than an emotional reaction to it.
    • a dirty littered street
filthy carries a strong suggestion of offensiveness and typically of gradually accumulated dirt that begrimes and besmears.
    • a stained greasy floor, utterly filthy
foul implies extreme offensiveness and an accumulation of what is rotten or stinking.
    • a foul-smelling open sewer
nasty applies to what is actually foul or is repugnant to one expecting freshness, cleanliness, or sweetness.
    • it's a nasty job to clean up after a sick cat
In practice, nasty is often weakened to the point of being no more than a synonym of unpleasant or disagreeable.
    • had a nasty fall
    • his answer gave her a nasty shock
squalid adds to the idea of dirtiness and filth that of slovenly neglect.
    • squalid slums
All these terms are also applicable to moral uncleanness or baseness or obscenity. dirty then stresses meanness or despicableness
    • don't ask me to do your dirty work
, while filthy and foul describe disgusting obscenity or loathsome behavior
    • filthy street language
    • a foul story of lust and greed
, and nasty implies a peculiarly offensive unpleasantness.
    • a stand-up comedian known for nasty humor
Distinctively, squalid implies sordidness as well as baseness and dirtiness.
    • engaged in a series of squalid affairs

SQUALID Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of squalid for English Language Learners

  • : very dirty and unpleasant

  • : immoral or dishonest

SQUALID Defined for Kids


adjective squal·id \ ˈskwä-ləd \

Definition of squalid for Students

: filthy or degraded from a lack of care or money
  • They lived in squalid conditions.

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one who attends or assists a leader

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