Definition of penury in English:


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  • Extreme poverty; destitution.

    ‘he died in a state of virtual penury’
    • ‘Now, as then, a government is reducing its citizens to penury as they are deprived of their income and homes.’
    • ‘Perhaps it was unavoidable, yet it was a road that led past ruin, default and penury, through the plunder of Russia and the impoverishment of Russians.’
    • ‘Bastille Day in France commemorates the French Revolution and reminds us of one of the most unpleasant and blood-soaked regimes ever to have reduced a country to penury.’
    • ‘Having been reduced to penury, struggling to survive, they no longer serve as an effective political opposition.’
    • ‘Women who believe they are in for a reasonable standard of living during widowhood, are to be step-by-step, reduced to penury.’
    • ‘He was reduced to living in penury in miserable exile in France; and on his return to York he was imprisoned for three months.’
    • ‘If we all looked, acted, thought and behaved as badly as spammers do, our world would be reduced to desperate penury.’
    • ‘I will reduce myself to penury to save you from the evils of gambling, even if it means winning millions of pounds.’
    • ‘It is a miracle that her flimsy frame has been able to survive the extremes of weather, utter penury and the cruel sneers of her snobbish compatriots during her hellish ordeal.’
    • ‘He was not a poverty-stricken peasant's son looking to escape penury.’
    • ‘It follows that you don't have to reduce yourself to utter penury.’
    • ‘Price rises due to his stealth taxes have reduced thousands like me to utter penury.’
    • ‘In a globalized economy, it imposes penury on trading partners, especially the poorest countries.’
    • ‘After slaving to bring up children and nursemaid a man while simultaneously working to boost the family's income, they are the ones left to live out a lonely and unglamorous old age in penury.’
    • ‘Living a life in penury, they have sold everything.’
    • ‘Even in the middle of penury, dreams remain colourful.’
    • ‘It was her penury and negligence that let the house deteriorate.’
    • ‘In overcoming that penury, modern technology as well as economic interrelations have been influential.’
    • ‘Falling in love with a tea vendor could suit the infatuated young mind but when it comes to marriage she is able to visualise the agony of penury and gets out of the affair.’
    • ‘But despite his outstanding gifts he's soon in penury again because the crocodile he has adopted is scaring off potential clients.’
    dire poverty, extreme poverty, pennilessness, impecuniousness, impoverishment, indigence, need, neediness, want, destitution, privation, deprivation, hardship, beggary, bankruptcy, insolvency, ruin, reduced circumstances, straitened circumstances
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/ˈpenyərē/ /ˈpɛnjəri/


Late Middle English from Latin penuria ‘need, scarcity’; perhaps related to paene ‘almost’.