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1. The state of being poor; lack of the means of providing material needs or comforts.
2. Deficiency in amount; scantiness: "the poverty of feeling that reduced her soul" (Scott Turow).
3. Unproductiveness; infertility: the poverty of the soil.
4. Renunciation made by a member of a religious order of the right to own property.

[Middle English poverte, from Old French, from Latin paupertās, from pauper, poor; see pau- in Indo-European roots.]


1. the condition of being without adequate food, money, etc
2. scarcity or dearth: a poverty of wit.
3. (Agriculture) a lack of elements conducive to fertility in land or soil
[C12: from Old French poverté, from Latin paupertās restricted means, from pauper poor]


(ˈpɒv ər ti)

1. the state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support; condition of being poor; indigence.
2. deficiency of necessary or desirable ingredients, qualities, etc.
3. scantiness; insufficiency.
[1125–75; Middle English poverte < Old French < Latin paupertātem, acc. of paupertās. See pauper, -ty2]


1. Rare. the state of beggarhood.
2. behavior characteristic of a beggar.
the state or condition of utter poverty. Also called pauperage.
an abnormal fear of poverty.
extreme poverty or destitution. — penurious, adj.
1. a policy in local governments of providing relief for the poor, often excessive in amount.
2. any similar policy of government spending that leads to higher taxes. — Poplarist, n.
a form of rule by beggars or the poor.
the scientific study of pauperism, unemployment, etc.
the development and growth of slums or substandard dwelling conditions in urban areas.


 the poor collectively, 1433; a company of pipers.
Examples: poverty of paupers; of pipers, 1486; multitude of the poverty of the town, 1537.




  1. Destitution, like a famished rat, begins by gnawing at the edges of garments —Stefan Zweig
  2. Her poverty was like a huge dream-mountain on which her feet were fast rooted … aching with the ache of the size of the thing —Katherine Mansfield
  3. (I felt as) poor as a Catholic without a sin for confession —Harry Prince
  4. Poor as a church mouse —Anon

    Like Job, mice (and rats) have long been, and continue to be, proverbial comparisons for poverty. The writer most frequently credited with originating the simile is William Makepeace Thackeray who used it in Vanity Fair

  5. Poor as a couple of shithouse spiders —Leslie Thomas
  6. Poor as Job —Anon

    A simile with a history dating back to the thirteenth century, and used by many illustrious writers. In Henry IV, Shakespeare extended it to, “Poor as Job … but not so patient,” while Sir Walter Scott in The Fortunes of Nigel made it, “Proud as Lucifer, and as poor as Job.” A variation that was once a popular American colloquialism is “Poor as Job’s turkey.”

  7. Poor as sin —F. Scott Fitzgerald
  8. A poor man who oppresses the poor is like a sweeping rain which leaves no food —The Holy Bible/Proverbs

    The words ‘oppresses’ and ‘leaves’ have been modernized from ‘oppresseth’ and ‘leaveth.’

  9. Poverty is death in another form —Latin proverb
  10. Poverty, like wealth, entails a ritual of adaptation —Arthur A. Cohen
  11. Wearing squalor like a badge —Wilfrid Sheed




beggar’s bush Beggary, financial ruin, bankruptcy; often in the phrases to go by beggar’s bush or to go home by beggar’s bush. The allusion is to a certain tree on the left side of the London road from Huntingdon to Caxton, where beggars once frequently gathered. This British expression, rarely heard today, dates from the late 16th century.

We are almost at Beggars-bush, and we cannot tell how to help our selves. (Andrew Yarranton, England’s Improvement by Sea and Land, 1677)

down-at-the-heel Poor, destitute; of slovenly or shabby appearance; also, out-at-the-heel. The latter usually refers to holes in one’s stockings; the former, to the run-down condition of one’s shoes.

Thus the unhappy notary ran gradually down at the heel. (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Outre-Mer, 1835)

Some rich snudges … go with their hose out at heels. (Thomas Wilson, The Art of Rhetoric, 1553)

from hand to mouth See PRECARIOUSNESS.

hard up In financial straits, short of cash, out-of-pocket. Originally nautical, this expression was usually used in the imperative, directing that the helm or tiller be pushed as far windward as it would go in order to turn the ship’s bow away from the wind. Since this maneuver was usually necessitated by a storm or other potentially disastrous situation, the phrase took on the general sense of difficulty or straits. The nonnautical use of this expression dates from the early 19th century.

You don’t feel nearly so hard up with elevenpence in your pocket as you do with a shilling. (Jerome K. Jerome, The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, 1886)

in Carey Street Penniless, flat broke, destitute. This British colloquial expression takes its name from Carey Street in London, the former location of the Bankruptcy Court. It has been in use since 1922.

in low water Financially hard up, strapped, broke, impoverished. Although the exact origin of this expression is unknown, it may be related to the precarious condition of a ship finding itself in low water or about to go “on the rocks.” This expression dates from the latter half of the 18th century.

Law-breakers … who, having been “put away,” and done their time, found themselves in low water upon their return to the outer world. (Chambers’s Journal of Popular Literature, February, 1885)

See also on the rocks, INDEBTEDNESS.

on one’s beam-ends In financial difficulties, in imminent danger of bankruptcy. The reference is to a vessel on her beam-ends, that is, on her side such that the beams—the transverse timbers supporting the deck—are practically touching the water. Obviously, any vessel in such a state is in immediate danger of overturning. The phrase has been used figuratively since the early 19th century.

on one’s uppers Impoverished, down-and-out; shabby-looking, down-at-the-heel. This phrase, of U.S. origin, appeared in The Century Dictionary (1891). The uppers are the upper leathers of shoes or boots; a person “on his uppers” has worn through both sole and welt. Footgear as indicative of financial status is also found in the term well-heeled (though this is probably of unrelated origin), and in the above-noted down-at-the-heel.

The rumor whirled about the Street that Greener was in difficulties. Financial ghouls … said … “Greene is on his uppers.” (Munsey’s Magazine, 1901)

on the high-road to Needham See DEGENERATION.

out at elbows Shabbily dressed; down-and-out, poverty-stricken; in financial difficulties. A coat worn through at the elbows has long been a symbol of poverty. The expression appeared in print by the time of Shakespeare.

He was himself just now so terribly out at elbows, that he could not command a hundred pounds. (Mrs. Mary M. Sherwood, The Lady of the Manor, 1847)

poor as a churchmouse Extremely poor; impoverished, insolvent; poor but proud. This expression, popular since the 17th century, is probably derived from a tale which recounts the plight of a mouse that attempted to find food in a church. Since most churches, including that of the story, do not have kitchens, the proud mouse found it difficult to survive since its pickings were slim at best.

The owner, ’tis said, was once poor as a churchmouse. (Political Ballads, 1731)

poor as Job Poverty-stricken, indigent, destitute. The allusion is to the extreme poverty which befell the central character in the Book of Job. In spite of a series of devastating calamities, Job remained steadfast in his faith and trust in God, and has long been the personification of both poverty and patience.

I am as poor as Job, my lord, but not so patient. (Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part II I,ii)

A related expression, poor as Job’s turkey, is credited to Thomas C. Haliburton (1796–1865), a Canadian judge and humorist. Haliburton, using the pseudonym Sam Slick, described Job’s turkey as so poor that it had only one feather, and so weak that it had to lean against a fence in order to gobble. Job, of course, never had a turkey—poor or otherwise—as the bird is a native of North America. A variation is poor as Job’s cat.

ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.poverty - the state of having little or no money and few or no material possessionspoverty - the state of having little or no money and few or no material possessions
financial condition - the condition of (corporate or personal) finances
deprivation, neediness, privation, want - a state of extreme poverty
destitution - a state without friends or money or prospects
indigence, pauperism, pauperization, penury, need - a state of extreme poverty or destitution; "their indigence appalled him"; "a general state of need exists among the homeless"
impecuniousness, pennilessness, penuriousness - a state of lacking money
wealth, wealthiness - the state of being rich and affluent; having a plentiful supply of material goods and money; "great wealth is not a sign of great intelligence"


Related words
fear peniaphobia
"The greatest of evils and the worst of crimes is poverty" [George Bernard Shaw Major Barbara]
"Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor" [James Baldwin Nobody Knows My Name]
"Give me not poverty lest I steal" [Daniel Defoe Review (later incorporated into Moll Flanders)]
"The want of money is the root of all evil" [Samuel Butler Erewhon]
"No man should commend poverty unless he is poor" [Saint Bernard]
"People don't resent having nothing nearly as much as too little" [Ivy Compton-Burnett A Family and a Fortune]
"Poverty is not a crime"


sự nghèo đói


A. N
1. (= state of being poor) → pobreza f
absolute/extreme/relative povertypobreza f absoluta/extrema/relativa
to live/die in povertyvivir/morir en la pobreza
see also abject 3
see also grinding 2
see also plead A2
see also vow A
2. (= lack) → pobreza f, escasez f
poverty of resourcespobreza f or escasez f de recursos
poverty of ideaspobreza f de ideas
poverty of imaginationpobreza f or falta f de imaginación
3. (= poor quality) [of soil] → pobreza f
B. CPD poverty line, poverty level (US) Numbral m de pobreza
to be or live above/below the poverty line or levelvivir por encima/por debajo del umbral de pobreza
to be or live on the poverty linevivir en el umbral de pobreza, vivir al borde de la pobreza
poverty trap N (Brit) → trampa f de la pobreza


[ˈpɒvərti] n
(financial)pauvreté f
to live in poverty → vivre dans la pauvreté
[thought, imagination] → pauvreté f; [values, ambition] → indigence fpoverty level nseuil m de pauvreté
to live below the poverty level → vivre au-dessous du seuil de pauvretépoverty line nseuil m de pauvreté
above the poverty line → au-dessus du seuil de pauvreté
below the poverty line → au-dessous du seuil de pauvretépoverty-stricken [ˈpɒvərtistrɪkən] adj [person, family] → frappé par la pauvretépoverty trap n (British)piège m de la pauvreté


nArmut f; poverty of ideas/informationIdeen-/Informationsarmut f; to be above/below/on the poverty lineoberhalb/unterhalb/an der Armutsgrenze leben


poverty level
nAusmaß ntan Armut
poverty factor
n (Sociol) (→ Grad mder) → Armut f
poverty risk
n (Sociol) → Armutsrisiko nt
adjNot leidend; conditionskümmerlich; to be povertyArmut leiden; (hum inf)am Hungertuch nagen (hum)
poverty trap
n Situation, wobei (vermehrte) Einkünfte zu einer Verringerung/zum Wegfall von Sozialleistungen führen, → Armutsfalle f


[ˈpɒvətɪ] nmiseria, povertà
poverty of resources → mancanza di risorse
to live in poverty → vivere in miseria


(ˈpovəti) noun
the condition of being poor. They lived in extreme poverty; the poverty of the soil.


فَقْر chudoba fattigdom Armut φτώχεια pobreza köyhyys pauvreté siromaštvo povertà 貧困 가난 armoede fattigdom ubóstwo pobreza бедность fattigdom ความยากจน yoksulluk sự nghèo đói 贫穷


n. pobreza, carencia.


n pobreza
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