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”)).
- See the Wikipedia article on the pour-poor merger in many kinds of English
- (General Australian, New Zealand) IPA(key): /poː/
- (Canada) IPA(key): /pʊɹ/, /puɹ/, /pɔɹ/
- (Indian English) IPA(key): /ˈpʊ(ː)ə(r)/
- (Northern Ireland) IPA(key): /pɜːɹ/
- (non-rhotic, show-sure merger, AAVE) IPA(key): /poʊ/
- (Received Pronunciation)
- Rhymes: -ʊə(ɹ), -ɔː(ɹ)
- Homophones: pour, pore (with the pour-poor merger)
- Homophone: paw (non-rhotic accents with the paw-poor merger)
- Homophone: Poe (non-rhotic accents with the show-sure merger)
- Homophones: purr, per (in Northern Ireland)
- 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.
- 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, →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 27 March 2021, Taiwan News, page 3:
- 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.
- 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., […], , →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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. (If the meaning were "Give the soup to that [visibly] impoverished man!", the word "poor" would be pronounced with more stress.)
- (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
- being poor is a mindset
- being poor is a state of mind
- cash poor
- court poor box
- dirt poor
- house poor
- insurance poor
- land poor
- piss poor
- poor as a church mouse
- poor as a rat
- poor as Job
- poor as Job's turkey
- poor box
- poor boy
- poor dab
- poor devil
- poor diddums
- poor house
- poor is a mindset
- poor is a state of mind
- poor knights of Windsor
- poor law
- poor little rich girl
- poor man of mutton
- poor man's
- poor man's asparagus
- poor man's black velvet
- poor man's butter
- poor man's cake
- poor man's caviar
- poor man's copyright
- poor man's diamond
- poor man's ginseng
- poor man's goose
- poor man's latte
- poor man's orchid
- poor man's pizza
- poor man's racehorse
- poor man's sauce
- poor man's steak
- poor man's Tiffany
- poor man's umbrella
- poor man's weatherglass
- poor metal
- poor mouth
- poor old
- poor power
- poor rate
- poor relation
- poor show
- poor sport
- poor thing
- poor white trash
- quite poor
- the poor we will always have with us
- working poor
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
poor (plural only)
- (plural only) The poor people of a society or the world collectively, the poor class of a society.
- 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), London: […] Robert Barker, […], →OCLC, Matthew 26:8-11:
- ...when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might haue bin sold for much, and giuen to the poore. When Iesus vnderstood it, he said vnto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good worke vpon me. For ye haue the poore alwayes with you, but me ye haue not alwayes.
- 1971, Lyndon Johnson, The Vantage Point, Holt, Reinhart & Winston, →ISBN, →LCCN, →OCLC, page 39:
- Harry Truman used to say that 13 or 14 million Americans had their interests represented in Washington, but that the rest of the people had to depend on the President of the United States. That is how I felt about the 35 million American poor. They had no voice and no champion. Whatever the cost, I was determined to represent them. Through me they would have an advocate and, I believed, new hope.
- 1972, Anonymous translation of Friedrich Engels as "Draft of a Communist Confession of Faith", International Publishers:
- 2010 Jan. 27, Matt Taibbi, "Populism: Just Like Racism!", True/Slant:
- This is the same Randian bullshit that we've been hearing from people like Brooks for ages and its entire premise is really revolting and insulting—this idea that the way society works is that the productive "rich" feed the needy "poor," and that any attempt by the latter to punish the former for "excesses" might inspire Atlas to Shrug his way out of town and leave the helpless poor on their own to starve. That's basically Brooks's entire argument here. Yes, the rich and powerful do rig the game in their own favor, and yes, they are guilty of "excesses"—but fucking deal with it, if you want to eat.
- 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.
poor (plural poors)
- (countable, originally chiefly Scotland) A poor person.
- The poors are at it again.
- 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 (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!
- (obsolete) Synonym of .
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.
- (transitive, rare) Synonym of , 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.
- 2003 August 10, Dallas News, p. 3:
- (intransitive, obsolete) To become poor.
- (obsolete) To call poor.
Although having a long and chiefly Scottish history, verbal use of poor is now generally parsed as a nonstandard innovation and employed within quotes.
- “poor, adj. and n¹.”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 2021.
- “poor, n².”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 2021.
- “poor, v.”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 2021.