: a level of poverty in which real hardship and deprivation are suffered and comforts of life are wholly lacking
Did You Know?
Is your vocabulary impoverished by a lack of synonyms for indigence? We can help. Poverty, penury, want, and destitution all describe the state of someone who is lacking in key resources. Poverty covers the range from severe lack of basic necessities to an absence of material comforts ("the refugees lived in extreme poverty"). Penury suggests a cramping or oppressive lack of money ("illness condemned him to years of penury"). Want and destitution imply extreme, even life-threatening, poverty ("lived in a perpetual state of want"; "the widespread destitution in countries beset by famine"). Indigence, which descends from a Latin verb meaning "to need," implies seriously straitened circumstances and usually connotes the endurance of many hardships and the lack of comforts.
"But how do the poor minority fare? Perhaps it will be found that just in proportion as some have been placed in outward circumstances above the savage, others have been degraded below him. The luxury of one class is counterbalanced by the indigence of another." — Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854
"Indigence isn't rare in Rochester and in Monroe County's towns, given the area's systemic poverty. And for the public defenders' clients, Donaher says, 'any amount of cash bail is an enormous obstacle, because they don't have cash.'" — Tianna Mañón, The Rochester (New York) City Newspaper, 11 Apr. 2018
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Vocabulary
Fill in the blanks to complete an adjective that means "penniless": i _ _ ec _ n _ _ us.VIEW THE ANSWER
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