Definition of poverty in English:



mass noun
  • 1The state of being extremely poor.

    ‘thousands of families are living in abject poverty’
    • ‘Looking at this village now, it is hard to imagine the poverty that existed here 100 years ago.’
    • ‘The results suggest that providing day care may be insufficient as a strategy to reduce poverty.’
    • ‘The new kind of poverty was in the process of acquiring a revolutionary quality.’
    • ‘You can prosecute a few people but as long as there is poverty, corruption will continue to exist.’
    • ‘This is the only humane approach to those fleeing violence, poverty and oppression.’
    • ‘And I fully accept that we really do need to tackle the question of global poverty.’
    • ‘Cultural programs have suffered as a result of poverty and political upheaval.’
    • ‘People looked to religion for some hope in the face of poverty and oppression brought by colonialism.’
    • ‘That is because poverty degrades individuals and robs them of dignity and worth.’
    • ‘This film captures the claustrophobic feeling of people struggling against violence and poverty.’
    • ‘He did not come to save his people from aimlessness, poverty or political adversity.’
    • ‘This is a film, set in contemporary Italy, where the poverty and way of life gives it a timeless quality.’
    • ‘He also said it was the responsibility of governments and world leaders to stop global poverty.’
    • ‘It was dirty, full of poverty, and the politics were full of corruption.’
    • ‘A lot of talented students are unable to complete their studies because of poverty.’
    • ‘If we want to do something about child poverty, we should be spending more on social programs.’
    • ‘Mobility and migration across borders are often prompted by poverty and violence.’
    • ‘A life of poverty, tradition and religious dread suffuses songs steeped in misery and learnt by word of mouth.’
    • ‘It is hard to imagine the horrors of war, crippling poverty or injustice where we live.’
    • ‘Many men and women came to these cities from rural poverty, hoping to find a decent living.’
    penury, destitution, indigence, pennilessness, privation, deprivation, impoverishment, neediness, need, want, hardship, impecuniousness, impecuniosity, hand-to-mouth existence, beggary, pauperism, straitened circumstances, bankruptcy, insolvency
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    1. 1.1 The renunciation of the right to individual ownership of property as part of a religious vow.
  • 2The state of being inferior in quality or insufficient in amount.

    ‘the poverty of her imagination’
    • ‘It shows a complete poverty of imagination and a vast amount of callousness.’
    • ‘It captures the simmering rage and imaginative poverty that was part of the Thatcherite psyche.’
    • ‘She is up against poverty of imagination, prudishness, bigotry and ladies locked into pain.’
    • ‘The appointment is not a disaster, though it shows a poverty of imagination.’
    scarcity, deficiency, dearth, shortage, paucity, insufficiency, inadequacy, absence, lack, want, deficit, meagreness, limitedness, restrictedness, sparseness, sparsity
    inferiority, mediocrity, poorness, barrenness, aridity, sterility
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Middle English: from Old French poverte, from Latin paupertas, from pauper ‘poor’.