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

Definition of squalid

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

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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 The women are among dozens of French mothers and their 200 or so children who have been detained by Kurdish forces for at least two years in squalid camps, and are in a state of legal limbo. BostonGlobe.com, "Pressuring France to bring them home, women who joined ISIS stage hunger strike," 22 Feb. 2021 Many were returned to places in northern Mexico plagued by violence and crime and waited months and even years for their U.S. court hearings while in squalid migrant tent camps. Camilo Montoya-galvez, CBS News, "U.S. admits first group of asylum-seekers as Biden rolls back Remain-in-Mexico policy," 20 Feb. 2021 In Matamoros, across from Brownsville, about 1,000 asylum seekers have lived there for months, some for more than a year in a squalid tent camp. Dianne Solis, Dallas News, "White House warns immigrants against travel as new Border Patrol numbers show arrivals are edging upwards," 10 Feb. 2021 My mother was a 23-year-old university student, anxious and fearful, suddenly faced with the unfathomable responsibility of caring for an infant in a squalid, overcrowded prison. New York Times, "They Came for My Father Nearly 30 Years Ago. It Still Haunts Me.," 6 Oct. 2020 Her yearlong tenure was marred by the rampant spread of the coronavirus, inmates’ complaints about squalid conditions, a gun smuggled into the jail and at least one inmate’s death. NBC News, "New warden at jail where Epstein died served as prison executioner," 9 Feb. 2021 Her yearlong tenure was marred by the rampant spread of the coronavirus, inmates' complaints about squalid conditions, a gun smuggled into the jail and at least one inmate's death. Michael Balsamo, Star Tribune, "New warden at Epstein jail served as prison executioner," 8 Feb. 2021 The policy has resulted in tens of thousands of migrants living in squalid conditions along the border, often leaving them prey to violence and extortion by drug trafficking gangs. Oscar Lopez, BostonGlobe.com, "Mexico arrests police officers over massacre," 4 Feb. 2021 Cruelty, greed and violence are as much a part of his realism as hunger, squalid living conditions and tuberculosis. Los Angeles Times, "Commentary: Times are bad, so keep your uplift. Give me ‘Crime and Punishment’ and ‘The Godfather’," 14 Jan. 2021

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for squalid

Time Traveler

The first known use of squalid was in 1596

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Statistics for squalid

Last Updated

1 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Squalid.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/squalid. Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for squalid



English Language Learners Definition of squalid

: very dirty and unpleasant
: immoral or dishonest


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.

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