Definition of squalid in English:



  • 1(of a place) extremely dirty and unpleasant, especially as a result of poverty or neglect.

    ‘the squalid, overcrowded prison’
    • ‘For much of the 1990s, these 10,000-odd refugees lived in squalid conditions in Kenyan camps.’
    • ‘They are quite often living in squalid and overcrowded accommodation.’
    • ‘This is the filthy, squalid bedroom where five children were left slowly starving to death by their parents, while they got drunk and watched television downstairs.’
    • ‘Of course, the poorest could not afford this new accommodation, and many urban authorities were sweeping away the squalid slums on grounds of public health and safety.’
    • ‘The pig farm is a squalid 10-acre patch of mud and dilapidated buildings in the town of Port Coquitlam, British Columbia.’
    • ‘Some 1.2 million people have been displaced so far and are forced to live in squalid camps set up by the army to protect them from abductions.’
    • ‘His room was squalid and packed with dirty clothes.’
    • ‘Many of the city's residents who were able to leave the city are now concentrated in squalid refugee camps in surrounding regions.’
    • ‘As a lowly GP working in the squalid inner city you might think I would support bleeding the middle class for few extra quid to take the pressure off local hospitals.’
    • ‘Many live in squalid camps and eke out a living as day labourers.’
    • ‘There are far fewer of the dismal and squalid student properties than there used to be.’
    • ‘Our urban areas are squalid and tawdry; what remains of our countryside is blighted by wind farms, phone masts and aircraft noise.’
    • ‘He lives with five of his family in two tiny squalid rooms for which he pays 10,000 of the 15,000 dinars he earns a month.’
    • ‘It was the abandoned children roaming the squalid streets that especially elicited her compassion.’
    • ‘Unemployment in the squalid neighbourhoods where they live is double the national rate of 10 percent.’
    • ‘And the convention centre that became a squalid shelter in the chaotic days after the hurricane also reopened last week in an encouraging sign for the city's tourism industry.’
    • ‘The focus must remain on supporting the needs of women and children and the planned repatriation of millions of refugees still languishing in squalid camps.’
    • ‘People in the mountains remain vulnerable with the winter closing in and there are also fears of disease spreading in squalid tent settlements that have sprouted in the towns.’
    • ‘The stereotype of students happy to share squalid, dingy flats is a thing of the past.’
    • ‘Many of these girls rent rooms in squalid slums around the city.’
    dirty, filthy, grubby, grimy, mucky, slummy, slum-like, foul, vile, low, poor, sorry, wretched, dismal, dingy, miserable, mean, nasty, seedy, shabby, sordid, sleazy, insalubrious, slovenly, repulsive, disgusting
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Showing or involving a contemptible lack of moral standards.
      ‘a squalid attempt to save themselves from electoral embarrassment’
      • ‘The history of trade negotiations is littered with hypocritical rhetoric and squalid deals.’
      • ‘Furthermore, a series of strategic gaffs have further badly damaged the already squalid reputation which the industry has earned for itself.’
      • ‘Nobody comes well out of this squalid affair, but he emerges in a worse light than most.’
      • ‘His kindness and moral generosity I found uplifting in today's squalid world of denigration, spin and hypocrisy.’
      improper, sordid, unseemly, unsavoury, sleazy, seedy, seamy, shoddy, vile, foul, tawdry, louche, cheap, base, low, low-minded, nasty, debased, degenerate, depraved, corrupt, dishonest, dishonourable, disreputable, despicable, discreditable, disgraceful, contemptible, ignominious, ignoble, shameful, wretched, abhorrent, odious, abominable, disgusting
      View synonyms


Late 16th century: from Latin squalidus, from squalere ‘be rough or dirty’.