from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A scarce supply; a lack.
  • noun Shortage of food; famine.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Dearness; costliness; high price.
  • noun A condition of dearness or costliness from scarcity; hence, failure of production or supply; famine from failure or loss of crops.
  • noun Absence; lack; barrenness; poverty: as, a dearth of love; a dearth of honest men.
  • noun Synonyms Famine, etc. See scarcity.
  • To cause a dearth or scarcity in; hence, to raise the price of.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Scarcity which renders dear; want; lack; specifically, lack of food on account of failure of crops; famine.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun this sense?) A period or condition when food is rare and hence expensive; famine.
  • noun by extension Scarcity; a lack or short supply.
  • noun obsolete Dearness; the quality of being rare or costly.

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

  • noun an acute insufficiency
  • noun an insufficient quantity or number


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

[Middle English derthe, from Old English *dēorthu, costliness, from dēore, costly; see dear.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

First attested at least as early as the late 1400s, and appearing in Tyndale's Pentateuch (1530) as well as the Coverdale Bible (1535). From Middle English derþe, probably from Old English *dīerþ, *dīerþu, from Proto-Germanic *diuriþō (“costliness, preciousness, honour”), corresponding to dear + -th. Cognate with West Frisian djoerte ("love, dearness, value, worth"), Dutch duurte ("dearness; scarcity, dearth"), Icelandic dýrð ("honour, glory").



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