squa·​lor | \ˈskwä-lər also ˈskwā- or ˈskwȯ- \

Definition of squalor 

: the quality or state of being squalid

Examples of squalor in a Sentence

The family was living in squalor. I was shocked by the squalor of their surroundings.

Recent Examples on the Web

Men, women and children languished there in conditions of almost unimaginable squalor, brutality, overcrowding, starvation, verminous infestation and neglect. Patrick Mcgrath, New York Times, "A Dumping Ground for the Poor, the Criminal and the Mad," 28 June 2018 In one pick, fans of the worst teams in football can see the player who will lead them out of the squalor—or the one who will be the face of the team’s continued ignominy. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "The Big Questions That Will Shape the NFL Draft," 26 Apr. 2018 Despite their rich and well-connected pedigree, the mother and daughter pair were almost completely isolated from the outside world and, surprisingly, were living in abject squalor. refinery29.com, "Why Fashion People Love Cult Film Grey Gardens," 3 July 2018 Now the park offers not much of either, persisting as an island of squalor. Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle, "Homeless Warriors fans live in the shadow of team’s headquarters," 7 May 2018 The two were arrested in January when their 17-year-old daughter climbed out a window and used an old cellphone to call police and report years of abuse, neglect and living in squalor. Brian Melley, Fox News, "Prosecutor: Abused kids upbringing like 'Lord of the Flies'," 22 June 2018 Mortified by his increasing physical squalor, Jamie was also dismayed by the entourage that surrounded him away from home. David Denby, The New Yorker, "Leonard Bernstein Through His Daughter’s Eyes," 16 June 2018 No simple image of eternal squalor or romance, chaos or tranquility is sufficient to describe any place. Kanishk Tharoor, The Atlantic, "Anthony Bourdain’s Extreme Empathy," 10 June 2018 City leaders are under pressure to swiftly address the squalor and misery on the streets, but the question of where to build remains politically fraught. Emily Alpert Reyes, latimes.com, "L.A. lawmakers face opposition over homeless shelter plans," 18 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'squalor.' 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 squalor

1621, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for squalor

Latin, from squalēre

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Statistics for squalor

Last Updated

11 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for squalor

The first known use of squalor was in 1621

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English Language Learners Definition of squalor

: very bad and dirty conditions


squal·​or | \ˈskwä-lər \

Kids Definition of squalor

: the quality or state of being squalid The children had to live in squalor.

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Comments on squalor

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


something that serves to warn or remind

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