(1)   Deserving or inciting pity
"A hapless victim"
"Miserable victims of war"
"The shabby room struck her as extraordinarily pathetic"- Galsworthy
"Piteous appeals for help"
"Pitiable homeless children"
"A pitiful fate"
"Oh, you poor thing"
"His poor distorted limbs"
"A wretched life"
(2)   Unsatisfactory
"A poor light for reading"
"Poor morale"
"Expectations were poor"
(3)   Having little money or few possessions
"Deplored the gap between rich and poor countries"
"The proverbial poor artist living in a garret"
(4)   Lacking in specific resources, qualities or substances
"A poor land"
"The area was poor in timber and coal"
"Food poor in nutritive value"
(5)   Characterized by or indicating poverty
"The country had a poor economy"
"They lived in the poor section of town"
(6)   Not sufficient to meet a need
"An inadequate income"
"A poor salary"
"Money is short"
"On short rations"
"Food is in short supply"
"Short on experience"


(7)   People without possessions or wealth (considered as a group)
"The urban poor need assistance"


From povre, povere from povre, poure (Modern : pauvre), from pauper from *pavo-pars "getting little" from . Displaced native earm, arm "poor" (from earm), wantsum, wantsome "poor, needy" (from vant "deficiency, lack, want"), unlede "poor" (from unlǣde), unweli, unwely "poor, unwealthy" (from un- + weliġ "well-to-do, prosperous, rich").


  • pour (some accents only)
  • pore (some accents only)
  • paw (some accents only)


  1. With little or no possessions or money.
    We were so poor that we couldn't afford shoes.
  2. To be pitied.
    Oh you poor little thing.
  3. Of low quality.
    That was a poor performance.
  4. Of inadequate amount.
    I received a poor reward for all my hard work.
  5. Deficient in a specified way.
    Cow's milk is poor in iron.
  6. Those people as a group who have little or no possessions or money. (see usage notes)
    The poor are always with us.


  • pitiable (2)
  • inferior (3)
  • See also Wikisaurus:impoverished
  • See also Wikisaurus:unhappy

Related terms

  • a poor man's ...
  • dirt poor
  • piss-poor
  • poor as a church mouse
  • poor box
  • poor relation