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

  • noun Extreme want or poverty; destitution.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Lack; want; scantiness.
  • noun Extreme poverty; want; indigence.
  • noun Parsimoniousness; miserliness.

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

  • noun Absence of resources; want; privation; indigence; extreme poverty; destitution.
  • noun obsolete Penuriousness; miserliness.

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

  • noun extreme want; poverty; destitution.
  • noun a lack of something; a dearth; barrenness; insufficiency.

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

  • noun a state of extreme poverty or destitution


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

[Middle English penurie, from Latin pēnūria, want.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French pénurie ("dearth, lack"), from Latin penuria ("want").


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  • Man's feeble race what ills await!

    Labour, and Penury, the racks of Pain,

    Disease, and Sorrow's weeping train,

    And Death, sad refuge from the storms of fate!

    The fond complaint, my song, disprove,

    And justify the laws of Jove.

    Say, has he given in vain the heavenly Muse?

    - T. Gray, 'The Progress of Poesy'.

    August 11, 2008

  • an oppressive lack of resources

    August 1, 2009

  • The fear of penury is very curious, in our age. In really poor ages men did not fear penury. They didn't care.

    David Herbert Lawrence, "Education of the People"

    December 29, 2011

  • This word was also used in "The Name Of The Rose" book.

    June 12, 2012