wordswarm.net: free dictionary lookup
Wordswarms From Years Past

13-Letter Words
12-Letter Words
11-Letter Words
10-Letter Words
9-Letter Words
8-Letter Words
7-Letter Words
6-Letter Words
5-Letter Words
4-Letter Words
3-Letter Words

Adjacent Words

pouter pigeon
Pouteria campechiana nervosa
Pouteria zapota
poverty grass
poverty level
poverty line
Poverty Point National Monument
poverty stricken
poverty trap
POW camp

Poverty definitions

Webster's 1828 Dictionary

POV'ERTY, n. [L. paupertas. See Poor.]
1. Destitution of property; indigence; want of convenient means of subsistence. The consequence of poverty is dependence.
The drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty. Proverbs 23.
2. Barrenness of sentiment or ornament; defect; as the poverty of a composition.
3. Want; defect of words; as the poverty of language.

WordNet (r) 3.0 (2005)

1: the state of having little or no money and few or no material possessions [syn: poverty, poorness, impoverishment] [ant: wealth, wealthiness]

Merriam Webster's

noun Usage: often attributive Etymology: Middle English poverte, from Anglo-French poverté, from Latin paupertat-, paupertas, from pauper poor — more at poor Date: 12th century 1. a. the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions b. renunciation as a member of a religious order of the right as an individual to own property 2. scarcity, dearth 3. a. debility due to malnutrition b. lack of fertility Synonyms: poverty, indigence, penury, want, destitution mean the state of one with insufficient resources. poverty may cover a range from extreme want of necessities to an absence of material comforts <the extreme poverty of the slum dwellers>. indigence implies seriously straitened circumstances <the indigence of her years as a graduate student>. penury suggests a cramping or oppressive lack of money <a catastrophic illness that condemned them to years of penury>. want and destitution imply extreme poverty that threatens life itself through starvation or exposure <lived in a perpetual state of want> <the widespread destitution in countries beset by famine>.

Oxford Reference Dictionary

n. 1 the state of being poor; want of the necessities of life. 2 (often foll. by of, in) scarcity or lack. 3 inferiority, poorness, meanness. 4 Eccl. renunciation of the right to individual ownership of property. Phrases and idioms: poverty line the minimum income level needed to secure the necessities of life. poverty-stricken extremely poor. poverty trap a situation in which an increase of income incurs a loss of State benefits, making real improvement impossible. Etymology: ME f. OF poverte, poverté f. L paupertas -tatis f. pauper poor

Webster's 1913 Dictionary

Poverty Pov"er*ty (p[o^]v"[~e]r*t[y^]), n. [OE. poverte, OF. povert['e], F. pauvret['e], fr. L. paupertas, fr. pauper poor. See Poor.] 1. The quality or state of being poor or indigent; want or scarcity of means of subsistence; indigence; need. ``Swathed in numblest poverty.'' --Keble. The drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty. --Prov. xxiii. 21. 2. Any deficiency of elements or resources that are needed or desired, or that constitute richness; as, poverty of soil; poverty of the blood; poverty of ideas. Poverty grass (Bot.), a name given to several slender grasses (as Aristida dichotoma, and Danthonia spicata) which often spring up on old and worn-out fields. Syn: Indigence; penury; beggary; need; lack; want; scantiness; sparingness; meagerness; jejuneness. Usage: Poverty, Indigence, Pauperism. Poverty is a relative term; what is poverty to a monarch, would be competence for a day laborer. Indigence implies extreme distress, and almost absolute destitution. Pauperism denotes entire dependence upon public charity, and, therefore, often a hopeless and degraded state.

Collin's Cobuild Dictionary

Frequency: The word is one of the 3000 most common words in English. 1. Poverty is the state of being extremely poor. According to World Bank figures, 41 per cent of Brazilians live in absolute poverty... ? wealth 2. You can use poverty to refer to any situation in which there is not enough of something or its quality is poor. (FORMAL) Britain has suffered from a poverty of ambition. ? wealth N-SING: also no det, N of n

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia


1. Old Testament References:

This word, found but once in the Old Testament (Ge 45:11) outside of the Book of Proverbs in which it occurs 11 times (6:11; 10:15; 11:24 the King James Version; 13:18; 20:13; 23:21; 24:34; 28:19,22 the King James Version; 30:8; 31:7), is a translation of yiwaresh, "to be poor," "to come to poverty" (Ge 45:11). Four different Hebrew words are used in the 11 references in Prov, all bearing the idea of being in need of the necessities of life, although a distinction is made between being in want and being in extreme want. Pr 18:23 well illustrates the general meaning of "poverty" as found in this book: "The poor (rush, "to be impoverished," "destitute") useth entreaties; but the rich answereth roughly."

2. New Testament References

"Poverty" occurs 3 times in the New Testament (2Co 8:2,9; Re 2:9) and is the translation of ptocheia, "to be reduced to a state of beggary or pauperism."

The teaching of the Bible on this subject would, however, be incomplete unless all the references to the "poor" were considered in this connection. Indeed the word for "poverty" has its root in the word for "poor" (ptochos; `ani, or dal).


3. Two Degrees of Poverty:

At least two degrees of poverty are recognized. The Old Testament does not distinguish between them as clearly as does the New Testament. The New Testament, for example, by its use of two words for "poor" sets forth this distinction. In 2Co 9:9, "he hath given to the poor," the word used is penes, which does not indicate extreme poverty, but simply a condition of living from hand to mouth, a bare and scant livelihood, such as that made by the widow who cast her two mites into the treasury (Lu 21:2); while in such passages as 2Co 6:10: "As poor, yet making many rich," and Lu 6:20: "Blessed are ye poor" (ptochoi, a condition is indicated of abject beggary, pauperism, such as that in which we find Lazarus who was laid at the gate of the rich man's palace, begging even the crumbs which fell from the table of the rich man (Lu 16:20,21). It was into this latter condition that Christ voluntarily entered for our sakes: "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor (a mendicant, a beggar), that ye through his poverty might become rich" (2Co 8:9). Between 30 and 40 times in the New Testament this latter word is used.

4. Causes of Poverty:

The causes of poverty are failure of harvest and poor crops (Ne 5:1-3); devastation caused by enemies sweeping through the land; the oppression of the people by their own rulers (Isa 5:8); excessive interest, usury (Ne 5:1-5); persecution because of the faith (2Co 6; 8). Widows and orphans by reason of their desolate condition were in a special sense subject to poverty. Gluttony brings poverty (Pr 23:21), as does indolence (Pr 28:19).

God commanded His people to care for the poor. The exhortations to relieve poverty are numerous, especially in the Pentateuch. Those in poverty must be treated with kindness (De 15:7-11); must be allowed to glean in the vineyards (Le 19:10); to reap the harvest (Le 23:22; compare Ru 2:14-16); must not be neglected (Pr 28:27); nor dealt with harshly (Am 8:4-6); must be treated as equal before God (Pr 22:2); are to share in our hospitality (Lu 14:13,21). Indeed, the truth or falsity of a man's religion is to be tested, in some sense at least, by his relation to those in need (Jas 1:27). The year of Jubilee was intended to be of great benefit to the poor by restoring to them any possessions which they, by reason of their poverty, had been compelled to deed over to their creditors (Le 25:25-54; De 15:12-15). God required certain tithes from His people which were to be devoted to the helping of the poor and needy (De 14:28; 26:12,13). So in the New Testament the apostles lay special emphasis upon remembering the poor in the matter of offerings. Paul, especially, inculcated this duty upon the churches which he had rounded (Ro 15:26; Ga 2:10). The attitude of the early Christian church toward its poor is amply illustrated in that first attempt at communism in Ac 2; 4. James, in his Epistle, stingingly reminds his readers of the fact that they had grossly neglected the important matter of caring for the poor (chapter 2). Indeed, so strong is he in his plea for the care of the poor that he claims that the man who willfully neglects the needy thereby proves that the love of God has no place in his heart, and that he has consequently no real faith in God (2:14-26). Christians are exhorted to abound in the grace of hospitality, which, of course, is nothing less than kindness to those in need (Ro 12:13; 1Ti 6:18; 1 Joh 3:17).


The happiest mother and the noblest and holiest son that ever lived were among the poor. Jesus was born of poor parents, and had not where to lay His head (Mt 8:20), no money with which to pay tribute (Mt 17:27), no home to call His own (Joh 7:53; compare Joh 8:1), and was buried in a borrowed grave (Mt 27:57-61).

Figurative: Of course there is also a spiritual poverty indicated by the use of this word--a poverty in spiritual things: "Blessed are the poor in spirit." By this is meant, Blessed are they who feel that they have no self-righteousness, no worth of their own to present to Christ as a ground of their salvation, who feel their utter bankruptcy of spirit, who say "Nothing in my hand I bring." It is to this state of spirit that Christ refers in Re 3:17: "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art the wretched one and miserable and poor and blind and naked."

William Evans

Soule's Dictionary of English Synonyms

n. 1. Indigence, penury, want, destitution, need, necessity, privation, neediness, distress, straitened circumstances. 2. Beggary, mendicancy, pauperism. 3. Need, lack, want, deficiency, scantiness, sparingness, meagreness, jejuneness. 4. Paucity, exiguity, poorness, smallness. 5. Barrenness, sterility, unproductiveness, unfruitfulness.

Moby Thesaurus

beggary, dearth, destitution, difficulty, distress, embarrassment, exigency, hand-to-mouth existence, hardship, impecuniousness, impoverishment, inadequacy, indigence, insolvency, insufficiency, juncture, lack, mendicancy, necessity, need, neediness, pass, paucity, pauperism, pennilessness, penury, pinch, poorness, privation, rareness, rarity, scant, scant sufficiency, scantiness, scarceness, scarcity, shortage, sparseness, sparsity, strait, suffering, uncommonness, unprosperousness, want


wordswarm.net: free dictionary lookup