Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Extreme want of resources or the means of subsistence; complete poverty.
  • n. A deprivation or lack; a deficiency.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The action of deserting or abandoning.
  • n. Discharge from office; dismissal.
  • n. The condition of lacking something.
  • n. An extreme state of poverty, in which a person is almost completely lacking in resources or means of support.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The state of being deprived of anything; the state or condition of being destitute, needy, or without resources; deficiency; lack; extreme poverty; utter want.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Deprivation; absence of anything desired.
  • n. Deprivation of office; dismissal; discharge. See destitute, v., 2.
  • n. Deprivation or absence of means; indigence; poverty; want.
  • n. Synonyms Indigence, Penury, etc. (see poverty); privation, distress.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a state without friends or money or prospects

Etymologies

From French destitution, from Latin dēstitūtiōnem ("abandoning"), from dēstituere. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Those countries that still wallow in destitution and underdevelopment do so not because of western imperialism, racism or oppression but because of policies they have largely chosen for themselves by socialist planning or had forced upon them by civil war and revolution.

    Archive 2009-12-01

  • Messiah, his seductive arts and successes, the mass hysteria around him, his fall and the breaking up of illusions in destitution and new illusion, or in penance and purity.

    Isaac Bashevis Singer - Biography

  • The destitution is so great, so nearly insurmountable, the conditions so desperate, even in the rich fertile area of Russia, not to mention other countries, that in spite of widespread private generosity, what can be provided constitutes only a drop in the ocean.

    Fridtjof Nansen - Nobel Lecture

  • Yes, I says, I would see myself telling you, wouldn't I and you blabbing it the next time a lot of them church women meets at our house and some old church deacon getting hold of it and getting rich off of it and me wandering the streets in destitution with the rain running down often my beard and the end of my nose because you and the children cast me into the street.

    Chapter Eight: The Old Soak's History -- More Evils of Prohibition

  • [Page 126] one end of society and the destitution at the other; but it assumes that this overaccumulation and destitution is most sorely felt in the things that pertain to social and educational privileges.

    Twenty Years at Hull-House, With Autobiographical Notes

  • Yet Suro doesn’t account for the fact that, for many immigrants, shear economic destitution is often what drives ambition and any sense of adventure.

    Wonk Room » USC Professor Roberto Suro Wants Statue Of Liberty Message Erased

  • The most sordid destitution -- if ignorance of comfort can be called destitution -- reigned everywhere around.

    Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science Volume 11, No. 23, February, 1873

  • But it was not likely that he had reference to the kind of anguish that comes with destitution, that is so endlessly bitter and cruel, and yet so sordid and petty, so ugly, so humiliating -- unredeemed by the slightest touch of dignity or even of pathos.

    The Jungle

  • I was ignorant of the world and all its ways; and when first the idea of destitution came over my mind its effect was withering.

    Tales of a Traveller

  • If our destitution is the result of our economic freedom, why maintain the pretense of preserving capitalism?

    British Blogs

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