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 Animals that also included horses and ducks, all living in squalor, uncared for, and many with horrifying injuries. Chris Perkins, sun-sentinel.com, "Pompano Beach high school student rescues hundreds of animals found living in squalor," 27 Feb. 2021 Many were forced to wait in Matamoros, where about 1,000 people are living outdoors in squalor in a sprawling camp near the banks of the Rio Grande. Dianne Solis, Dallas News, "Some asylum-seekers stuck in squalid camps will be allowed to resume crossings into U.S. under Biden plan," 12 Feb. 2021 With thousands of migrants already living in squalor on the Mexican side of the border, a crisis could develop quickly, and that would be a nightmare for the new president this early in his term. New York Times, "Biden Issues Orders to Dismantle Trump’s ‘America First’ Immigration Agenda," 2 Feb. 2021 Critics dubbed these settings Greeneland, as if the squalor and trauma were pure invention. Washington Post, "The dramatic — and embellished — life of Graham Greene," 15 Jan. 2021 They were stuck in the doldrums of ignorance and squalor before the benevolent hand of the state reached down and lifted them up into the world of literacy and critical thought. Cameron Hilditch, National Review, "Why American Children Stopped Believing in God," 13 Dec. 2020 Juxtapositions of Churchill’s gilded Victorian sensibility and the squalor of industrial war accent the book’s vignettes. Jonathan W. Jordan, WSJ, "Holiday Gift Books 2020: History," 19 Nov. 2020 Rust Belt squalor that Yglesias rightly identifies as a critical national crisis elsewhere in this very same book? Jacob Bacharach, The New Republic, "The Emptiness of Matthew Yglesias’s Biggest Idea," 10 Sep. 2020 Hudson and his siblings grew up in squalor, often without food or supervision. Christy Gutowski, chicagotribune.com, "From death row to model inmate, Renaldo Hudson set free after 37 years. ‘I was preparing to die. I wasn’t preparing for this moment.’," 7 Sep. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of squalor

1621, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for squalor

Latin, from squalēre

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about squalor

Time Traveler for squalor

Time Traveler

The first known use of squalor was in 1621

See more words from the same year

Statistics for squalor

Last Updated

3 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Squalor.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/squalor. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for squalor



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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Who Knew?

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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