\ ˈpu̇r How to pronounce poor (audio) , ˈpȯr How to pronounce poor (audio) \

Definition of poor

1a : lacking material possessions
b : of, relating to, or characterized by poverty
2a : less than adequate : meager
b : small in worth
3 : exciting pity you poor thing
4a : inferior in quality or value
c : mean, petty
6 : barren, unproductive used of land
8 : lacking a normal or adequate supply of something specified often used in combination oil-poor countries

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Other Words from poor

poorish \ ˈpu̇r-​ish How to pronounce poor (audio) , ˈpȯr-​ \ adjective
poorness noun

Examples of poor in a Sentence

We were too poor to buy new clothes. The organization helps poor families. She has a poor vocabulary. It was a poor attempt at a joke. He is in poor condition. She couldn't read the sign because her vision was too poor. See More
Recent Examples on the Web But the coming boom in air-conditioning is an essential shift toward reducing the enormous gap in cooling availability that exists between rich and poor people and nations—and toward producing a more equitable world. Brooke Bowser, Scientific American, 10 May 2022 About a quarter of the population lives in poverty, government agencies and courts are seen as too weak to prosecute corruption and the gap between rich and poor remains wide. David Rising And Jim Gomez, USA TODAY, 6 May 2022 Or maybe the writer of the story was bored with the details of the transaction and wanted to cast it as a fight to the death between the noble Port and greedy investors bent on ripping off the poor people of Cincinnati. Roger Valdez, Forbes, 6 May 2022 Russia’s war had repercussions far beyond Ukraine and was exacerbating a food crisis that would be disastrous for poor people across the globe. The Christian Science Monitor, 1 May 2022 Since early on, the pandemic has highlighted inequality both on a micro scale—within countries, between social classes and ethnic groups—and a macro one—between rich and poor countries. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, 19 Apr. 2022 Many of the issues facing the state today, including housing and homelessness, are significantly impacted by the growing divide between rich and poor, said Di Camillo. Joshua Emerson Smith, San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 Apr. 2022 This isn’t just about a divide between rich and poor. Paul Kiel, ProPublica, 15 Apr. 2022 Yet to her death, Montessori never abandoned her faith in the idea that all children, rich and poor, should be more valued, supported and empowered. Washington Post, 1 Apr. 2022 See More

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

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for poor

Middle English poure, from Anglo-French povre, pore, from Latin pauper; akin to Latin paucus little and to Latin parere to give birth to, produce — more at few, pare

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Time Traveler for poor

Time Traveler

The first known use of poor was in the 13th century

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Dictionary Entries Near poor

poop royal


poor/bad sport

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Statistics for poor

Last Updated

12 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Poor.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/poor. Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for poor


\ ˈpu̇r How to pronounce poor (audio) \
poorer; poorest

Kids Definition of poor

1 : having little money or few possessions
2 : less than enough a poor crop
3 : worthy of pity The poor dog was lost.
4 : low in quality or condition poor health a poor effort

Other Words from poor

poorly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on poor

Nglish: Translation of poor for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of poor for Arabic Speakers


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