squal·​id | \ ˈskwä-ləd How to pronounce squalid (audio) \

Definition of squalid

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

Other Words from squalid

squalidly adverb
squalidness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of squalid in a Sentence

The family lived in squalid conditions.
Recent Examples on the Web Crime rates are nowhere near 1990s-era heights, but city dwellers have spent the pandemic’s nearly 2-1/2 years increasingly grappling with gutted business districts, squalid tent camps, smash-and-grab holdups and gaping economic disparities. Jonathan Weisman, BostonGlobe.com, 7 June 2022 Many of the others land in jail cells or squalid street encampments, or languish in back bedrooms. Sally Satel, WSJ, 13 Mar. 2022 Brookings, like other West Coast towns and cities, have said they are overwhelmed by an unprecedented rise in homeless people, often living in squalid encampments. Washington Post, 3 Feb. 2022 After a recent Chronicle investigation documented squalid conditions in many of the aging residential hotels, San Francisco leaders revived discussion of a possible ballot measure to provide better oversight of the city homeless department. Andres Picon, San Francisco Chronicle, 16 May 2022 Human rights advocates assailed the conditions in Mexico, where migrants often stayed in squalid camps. BostonGlobe.com, 10 Apr. 2022 In effect, this would be a refugee influx without the usual trappings of refugee processing: no squalid camps, no lengthy legal processes or uncertain statuses. Felipe De La Hoz, The New Republic, 8 Mar. 2022 Such was the case when stomach illness was reported among people living in the growing homeless encampment along Sports Arena Boulevard, which the city cited in launching two major cleanups of the squalid conditions there last week. San Diego Union-Tribune, 6 Feb. 2022 In September, 17,638 Haitians were taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, after many of them huddled in a squalid camp under a bridge in Del Rio, Tex., creating a humanitarian and political crisis for the Biden administration. Washington Post, 20 Nov. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of squalid

1596, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for squalid

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

Learn More About squalid

Time Traveler for squalid

Time Traveler

The first known use of squalid was in 1596

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near squalid




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for squalid

Last Updated

18 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Squalid.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/squalid. Accessed 24 Jun. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for squalid


squal·​id | \ ˈskwä-ləd How to pronounce squalid (audio) \

Kids Definition of squalid

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Odd Habits and Quirks

  • image1926873504
  • Which of the following best describes an easily irritated person?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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