Definitions

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

  • n. Poverty; neediness.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. extreme poverty or destitution

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The condition of being indigent; lack of estate, or means of comfortable subsistence; penury; poverty.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The condition of being indigent; insufficiency of means of subsistence; poverty; penury.
  • n. Synonyms Penury, Want, etc. See poverty.

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

  • n. a state of extreme poverty or destitution

Etymologies

Middle English, late 14th century, from Old French indigence (13th century), from Latin indigentia, from indigentem, form of indigere ("to need"), from indu ("in, within") + egere ("be in need, want"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The Imperial pontiff inculcates, in the most persuasive language, the duties of benevolence and hospitality; exhorts his inferior clergy to recommend the universal practice of those virtues; promises to assist their indigence from the public treasury; and declares his resolution of establishing hospitals in every city, where the poor should be received without any invidious distinction of country or of religion.

    The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

  • – He saw her the adored mistress of that house, where she had been brought up in indigence, in obscurity, almost in servitude; this gem, which he alone had found, was set where nature certainly intended it to have been placed – it was to him, not only its discovery, but its lustre was owing – he saw it sparkle with genuine beauty, and illuminate his future days; and he repressed every thought which seemed to intimate the uncertainty of all he thus fondly anticipated, and even of life itself.

    The Old Manor House

  • The whole region was sparsely settled by people of the frontier -- restless souls who no sooner had hewn fairly habitable homes out of the wilderness and attained to that degree of prosperity which to-day we should call indigence than impelled by some mysterious impulse of their nature they abandoned all and pushed farther westward, to encounter new perils and privations in the effort to regain the meagre comforts which they had voluntarily renounced.

    The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce — Volume 2: In the Midst of Life: Tales of Soldiers and Civilians

  • The poverty of the frontier, where all are engaged in a common struggle, and where a common sympathy and hearty co-operation lighten the burdens of each, is a very different poverty, different in kind, different in influence and effect, from that conscious and humiliating indigence which is every day forced to contrast itself with neighboring wealth on which it feels a sense of grinding dependence.

    Hidden Treasures Or, Why Some Succeed While Others Fail

  • The poverty of the frontier, where all are engaged in a common struggle, and where a common sympathy and hearty cooperation lighten the burdens of each, is a very different poverty—different in kind, different in influence and effect—from that conscious and humiliating indigence which is every day forced to contrast itself with neighboring wealth on which it feels a sense of grinding dependence.

    On the Death of Garfield

  • The extent of services to be rendered and the character of the obligation binding thereunto depend on the kind of indigence and the inconvenience which such ministrations impose on physicians, attorneys, or artisans (Lehmkuhl, loc. cit., no.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 1: Aachen-Assize

  • Ignorance; bad laws or customs, debarring a man or woman from the sources of happiness within reach; and 'the positive evils of life, the great sources of physical and mental suffering -- such as indigence, disease, and the unkindness, worthlessness, or premature loss of objects of affection.' [

    Critical Miscellanies, Vol. 3 (of 3) Essay 2: The Death of Mr Mill - Essay 3: Mr Mill's Autobiography

  • If by “progressive” is meant engorging insurers and providers while consigning many more millions to means-tested welfare and permanent indigence, well …

    Matthew Yglesias » Health Care Note

  • While it certainly produces some social good by helping to ensure that I am not a burden on society through indigence, it does nothing to benefit the company that issued it.

    Matthew Yglesias » Ever-Closer Union

  • By the 1620s, as the tide of colonial trade began to turn and Seville struggled to hold onto its wealth, such images of abject indigence and quiet generosity may well have taken on a new import.

    The Compassionate Scoundrel

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