From Middle English povre, povere, from Old French (and Anglo-Norman) povre, poure (Modern French pauvre), from Latin pauper (English pauper), from Old Latin *pavo-pars (literally “getting little”), from Proto-Indo-European *peh₂w- (“few, small”). Cognate with Old English fēawa (“little, few”). Doublet of pauper.
Displaced native Middle English earm, arm (“poor”) (from Old English earm; See arm), Middle English wantsum, wantsome (“poor, needy”) (from Old Norse vant (“deficiency, lack, want”)), Middle English unlede (“poor”) (from Old English unlǣde), Middle English unweli, unwely (“poor, unwealthy”) (from Old English un- + weliġ (“well-to-do, prosperous, rich”).
- (General Australian, General New Zealand) IPA(key): /poː/
- (Canada) IPA(key): /pʊɹ/, /puɹ/, /pɔɹ/
- (Received Pronunciation)
- Rhymes: -ʊə(ɹ), -ɔː(ɹ)
- Homophones: pour, pore (with the pour-poor merger)
- Homophone: paw (in some non-rhotic accents, with the pour-poor merger)
- 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.
- The poor are always with us.
- Of low quality.
- That was a poor performance.
- 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 10, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
- 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.
- Used to express pity.
- Oh you poor little thing.
- 1913, Mrs. [Marie] Belloc Lowndes, chapter I, in The Lodger, London: Methuen, OCLC 7780546; republished in Novels of Mystery: The Lodger; The Story of Ivy; What Really Happened, New York, N.Y.: Longmans, Green and Co., […], , OCLC 2666860, 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.
- Deficient in a specified way.
- Cow's milk is poor in iron.
- 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.
- Free from self-assertion; not proud or arrogant; meek.
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.
- (with no or few possessions or money): See Thesaurus:impoverished
- (of low quality): inferior
- (to be pitied): pitiable, arm
- (with no or few possessions): rich, wealthy
- (of low quality): good
- (deficient in a specified way): rich
- (inadequate): adequate
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.