Synonym Chooser

How is the word penury distinct from other similar nouns?

Some common synonyms of penury are destitution, indigence, poverty, and want. While all these words mean "the state of one with insufficient resources," penury suggests a cramping or oppressive lack of money.

a catastrophic illness that condemned them to years of penury

Where would indigence be a reasonable alternative to penury?

The words indigence and penury are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, indigence implies seriously straitened circumstances.

the indigence of her years as a graduate student

When could poverty be used to replace penury?

In some situations, the words poverty and penury are roughly equivalent. However, poverty may cover a range from extreme want of necessities to an absence of material comforts.

the extreme poverty of the slum dwellers

How are the words want and destitution related as synonyms of penury?

Both want and destitution imply extreme poverty that threatens life itself through starvation or exposure.

lived in a perpetual state of want
the widespread destitution in countries beset by famine

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Cite this Entry

“Penury.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/penury. Accessed 24 Jul. 2024.

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