See also: Poor and pöör

English Edit

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Etymology Edit

Inherited from Middle English povre, povere, from Old French (and Anglo-Norman) povre, poure, from Latin pauper, from Old Latin *pavo-pars (literally getting little), from Proto-Indo-European *peh₂w- (few, small). Doublet of pauper.

Displaced native arm, wantsome, Middle English unlede (poor) (from Old English unlǣde), Middle English unweli, unwely (poor, unwealthy) (from Old English un- + weliġ (well-to-do, prosperous, rich)).

Pronunciation Edit

Adjective Edit

poor (comparative poorer, superlative poorest)

  1. With no or few possessions or money, particularly in relation to contemporaries who do have them.
    We were so poor that we couldn't afford shoes.
  2. Of low quality.
    That was a poor performance.
    • 1918, W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter X, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
      He looked round the poor room, at the distempered walls, and the bad engravings in meretricious frames, the crinkly paper and wax flowers on the chiffonier; and he thought of a room like Father Bryan's, with panelling, with cut glass, with tulips in silver pots, such a room as he had hoped to have for his own.
    • 2021 March 28, “Taiwan News Quick Take”, in Taipei Times[1], →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 27 March 2021, Taiwan News, page 3‎[2]:
      Meanwhile, due to a lack of wind, air quality in west Taiwan was poor yesterday, the Environmental Protection Administration said. Air quality could deteriorate early this morning, triggering a “red” alert — which signals unhealthy air quality — in some parts of Yunlin, Chiayi and Tainan counties, it said.
  3. Used to express pity.
    Oh you poor little thing.
    • 1913, Mrs. [Marie] Belloc Lowndes, chapter I, in The Lodger, London: Methuen, →OCLC; republished in Novels of Mystery: The Lodger; The Story of Ivy; What Really Happened, New York, N.Y.: Longmans, Green and Co., [], [1933], →OCLC, page 0056:
      Thanks to that penny he had just spent so recklessly [on a newspaper] he would pass a happy hour, taken, for once, out of his anxious, despondent, miserable self. It irritated him shrewdly to know that these moments of respite from carking care would not be shared with his poor wife, with careworn, troubled Ellen.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 15, in The China Governess[3]:
      Mr. Campion sighed. ‘Poor man,’ he said. ‘He sees his great sacrifices rejected by the gods, and so, no doubt, all the Misses Eumenides let loose again to plague him.’
  4. Deficient in a specified way.
    Cow's milk is poor in iron.
  5. Inadequate, insufficient.
    I received a poor reward for all my hard work.
    • a. 1686, Benjamin Calamy, Sermon 1:
      That I have wronged no Man, will be a poor plea or apology at the last day.
    • 1902, John Buchan, The Outgoing of the Tide:
      The temptation was more than mortal heart could resist. She gave him the promise he sought, stifling the voice of conscience; and as she clung to his neck it seemed to her that heaven was a poor thing compared with a man's love.
  6. Free from self-assertion; not proud or arrogant; meek.

Usage notes Edit

When the word "poor" is used to express pity, it does not change the meaning of the sentence. For example, in the sentence "Give this soup to that poor man!", the word "poor" does not serve to indicate which man is meant (and so the sentence expresses exactly the same command as "Give this soup to that man!"). Instead, the word "poor" merely adds an expression of pity to the sentence. (If the meaning were "Give the soup to that [visibly] impoverished man!", the word "poor" would be pronounced with more stress.)

Synonyms Edit

Antonyms Edit

Derived terms Edit

Related terms Edit

Translations Edit

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Noun Edit

poor (plural only)

  1. (plural only) The poor people of a society or the world collectively, the poor class of a society.
    The sun shines on the rich and the poor alike but, come the rain, the rich have better umbrellas.
    The poor are always with us.
    The rich are often so insulated from reality that they think the poor have extra money they could save for more than a short time.

Translations Edit

Noun Edit

poor (plural poors)

  1. (countable, originally chiefly Scotland) A poor person.
    The poors are at it again.
    • 1340, Laurent du Bois, translated by Dan Michel, Ayenbite of Inwyt, page 195: vint of ane king to huam a poure acsede ane peny...
    • 1625, Thomas Jackson, A Treatise Containing the Originall of Vnbeliefe, Pt. v, Ch. xvi, §6:
      He had given somewhat to every poore in the Parish.
    • 2023, James Sandoval, “Buying Happiness”, in But A Jape[5] (webcomic):
      I don't understand, Simmons! I have all the money in the world, but I'm still unhappy! [] It must be the poors! Those leeches have been stealing my happiness somehow!
  2. (obsolete) Synonym of poor cod.

Usage notes Edit

The countable sense of poor, despite having a long history and continuing existence in some Scottish dialects, is now generally parsed as nonstandard slang and frequently employed with ironic condescension as a critique of supposed upper-class views towards the poor.

Derived terms Edit

Translations Edit

Verb Edit

poor (third-person singular simple present poors, present participle pooring, simple past and past participle poored)

  1. (transitive, rare) Synonym of impoverish, to make poor.
    • 2003 August 10, Dallas News, p. 3:
      It is very evident that Americans are being ‘poored down’ to suit the world socialist agenda, and to maximize profits for the international corporations.
  2. (intransitive, obsolete) To become poor.
  3. (obsolete) To call poor.

Usage notes Edit

Although having a long and chiefly Scottish history, verbal use of poor is now generally parsed as a nonstandard innovation and employed within quotes.

References Edit

Anagrams Edit

Limburgish Edit

Alternative forms Edit

Etymology Edit

From Walloon porea.

Noun Edit

poor m

  1. leek

Old French Edit

Noun Edit

poor f (oblique plural poors, nominative singular poor, nominative plural poors)

  1. fear