im·​pe·​cu·​nious | \ ˌim-pi-ˈkyü-nyəs How to pronounce impecunious (audio) , -nē-əs \

Definition of impecunious

: having very little or no money usually habitually : penniless

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Other Words from impecunious

impecuniosity \ ˌim-​pi-​ˌkyü-​nē-​ˈä-​sə-​tē How to pronounce impecunious (audio) \ noun
impecuniously adverb
impecuniousness noun

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If impecunious means "penniless," then it stands to reason that "pecunious" can describe someone who has a lot of money. That is true, but "pecunious" is used with far less frequency in English than its opposite and is not found in many dictionaries. What's more, on the rare occasion when "pecunious" is put to use in English, it often means not "wealthy" but "miserly or ungenerous," as in "a pecunious attitude toward the less fortunate." "Impecunious" describes somebody who lacks the money to buy necessities, but it does not carry the connotation of desperation found in such words as "indigent" or "destitute." Both "pecunious" and "impecunious" derive via Middle English from the Latin pecunia, meaning "money."

Examples of impecunious in a Sentence

they were so impecunious that they couldn't afford to give one another even token Christmas gifts
Recent Examples on the Web Machen’s father was an impecunious clergyman, his mother an invalid, and their son a solitary but not lonely child. Michael Dirda, The New York Review of Books, 28 May 2020 Among them is the sardonic confidant, St. Quentin; the down-at-the-heels military man, Major Brutt; and the impecunious, high-living chancer, Eddie. Katherine A. Powers Washington Post, Star Tribune, 2 July 2021 Once the pioneers of modern design on the Vineyard were impecunious architects and academics, while today only the very wealthy can afford to build on what has become incredibly desirable real estate., 6 June 2021 Among them is the sardonic confidant, St. Quentin; the down-at-the heels military man, Major Brutt; and the impecunious, high-living chancer, Eddie. Washington Post, 7 May 2021 When that diversity eventually dwindled, as foreign investors and the banking class overtook the impecunious artistic one, Manhattan club life began to lose some of its vigor. Guy Trebay, Town & Country, 3 Dec. 2020 Salary cuts serve as the first step in giving needed cash to already impecunious Division I athletic departments, like Mid-American Conference schools in Michigan, that could otherwise see their programs crumble. Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press, 3 May 2020 Private-equity firms, which have mountains of committed investor cash, may start buying up fundamentally sound but impecunious suppliers in various industries, aware that when demand returns such companies will see its first fruits. The Economist, 8 Apr. 2020 Nat is a 46-year-old Londoner, the son of an impecunious Scottish aristocrat and a Russian exiled to Paris, who for the entirety of his career has worked for Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, 26 Oct. 2019

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

1596, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for impecunious

in- entry 1 + obsolete English pecunious rich, from Middle English, from Latin pecuniosus, from pecunia money — more at fee

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The first known use of impecunious was in 1596

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Last Updated

30 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Impecunious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of impecunious

: having little or no money : poor

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Nglish: Translation of impecunious for Spanish Speakers


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