squa·​lor | \ ˈskwä-lər How to pronounce squalor (audio) 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 The squalor on this block of Mission Street formed a stark contrast to the Warriors’ holiday cheer. Lizzie Johnson, SFChronicle.com, "Warriors for the win: Salvation Army volunteers feed SF’s bed-bound on Christmas," 25 Dec. 2019 Now that facility is empty and instead, 200 migrants are living in squalor on the sidewalk in Juárez. Morgan Smith, The Denver Post, "Guest Commentary: Trump didn’t solve the migrant crisis — he just made it inhuman," 27 Nov. 2019 Krasznahorkai concludes his majestic four-novel cycle with a headlong comedy of obsession and wonderful squalor set in small-town Hungary. New York Times, "New & Noteworthy, From Mo Rocca to George Wallace," 26 Nov. 2019 What strikes most visitors to Los Angeles and San Francisco these days is the obscene wealth and squalor in close proximity: billion-dollar work campuses at one edge, but human feces in the old neighborhoods. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Whither Kamala Harris? A Failed-State Senator’s Failing Campaign," 31 Oct. 2019 The Japanese had invaded Indonesia two years before, driving all the Dutch settlers into labour camps where they were kept in squalor, close to starvation. The Economist, "Obituary: Jan Ruff O’Herne died on August 19th," 5 Sep. 2019 Frost said when hoarding turns into squalor, that suggests that a person may be suffering from dementia, Alzheimer's, or other disorders that interfere with an ability to live in an organized way. Tresa Baldas, USA TODAY, "80-year-old woman lived in filth. Nobody knew until she was found dead, eaten by her dog.," 1 Aug. 2019 James, an undisputed master who notoriously refused to bow to the system, died penniless in squalor at the Chelsea Hotel. Jessica Iredale, Town & Country, "Ralph Rucci: The Rise, and Fall and Rise Again of an American Couturier," 7 Aug. 2019 In all, four children were removed from the home: a 6-month-old and a 3-year-old, who were entirely hidden from the world and raised in squalor, and a 10- and 13-year-old, who went to school and were better cared for. Lauren Fox, BostonGlobe.com, "Mother in Blackstone ‘house of horrors’ case sentenced to 6 to 8 years in prison," 11 July 2019

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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Time Traveler for squalor

Time Traveler

The first known use of squalor was in 1621

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Statistics for squalor

Last Updated

4 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Squalor.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/squalor. Accessed 22 January 2020.

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More Definitions for squalor


How to pronounce squalor (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of squalor

: very bad and dirty conditions


squal·​or | \ ˈskwä-lər How to pronounce squalor (audio) \

Kids Definition of squalor

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on squalor

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for squalor

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with squalor

Spanish Central: Translation of squalor

Nglish: Translation of squalor for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of squalor for Arabic Speakers

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