Definition of poor adjective from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//pɔː(r)//
    ; NAmE NAmE//pɔːr//
    ; BrE BrE//pʊə(r)//
    ; NAmE NAmE//pʊr//
    (poorer, poorest) Poverty and famine, Poor health
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    having little money
  1. 1  having very little money; not having enough money for basic needs They were too poor to buy shoes for the kids. We aim to help the poorest families. It's among the poorer countries of the world. Synonymspoordisadvantaged needy impoverished deprived penniless hard upThese words all describe somebody who has very little or no money and therefore cannot satisfy their basic needs.poor having very little money; not having enough money for basic needs:They were too poor to buy shoes for the kids.disadvantaged having less money and fewer opportunities than most people in society:socially disadvantaged sections of the communityneedy poor:It’s a charity that provides help for needy children.impoverished (journalism) poor:Thousands of impoverished peasants are desperate to move to the cities.deprived [usually before noun] without enough food, education, and all the things that are necessary for people to live a happy and comfortable lifepoor, needy, impoverished or deprived?Poor is the most general of these words and can be used to describe yourself, another individual person, people as a group, or a country or an area. Needy is mostly used to describe people considered as a group: it is not used to talk about yourself or individual people:poor/​needy children/​families They were too needy to buy shoes for the kids.Impoverished is used, especially in journalism, to talk about poor countries and the people who live there. To talk about poor areas in rich countries, use deprived.penniless (literary) having no money; very poor:He died penniless in Paris.hard up (informal) having very little money, especially for a short period of time:I was always hard up as a student.Patterns poor/​disadvantaged/​needy/​impoverished/​deprived/​penniless/​hard-up people/​families poor/​disadvantaged/​needy/​impoverished/​deprived areas poor/​disadvantaged/​impoverished countries a(n) poor/​disadvantaged/​impoverished/​deprived background opposite rich See related entries: Poverty and famine
  2. 2the poor noun [plural] people who have very little money They provided food and shelter for the poor. opposite rich More Like This Plural adjectival nouns the blind, the deaf, the destitute, the dead, the dying, the elderly, the faithful, the homeless, the injured, the insane, the jobless, the middle aged, the old, the poor, the rich, the sick, the squeamish, the wealthy, the wicked, the wounded, the youngSee worksheet.
  3. unfortunate
  4. 3  [only before noun] deserving pity and sympathy Have you heard about poor old Harry? His wife's left him. It's hungry—the poor little thing. ‘I have stacks of homework to do.’ ‘Oh, you poor thing.’
  5. not good
  6. 4  not good; of a quality that is low or lower than expected the party’s poor performance in the election to be in poor health It was raining heavily and visibility was poor. poor food/light/soil to have a poor opinion of somebody (= to not think well of somebody) See related entries: Poor health
  7. 5  (of a person) not good or skilled at something a poor swimmer a poor judge of character She's a good teacher but a poor manager. a poor sailor (= somebody who easily gets sick at sea)
  8. having little of something
  9. 6  poor in something having very small amounts of something a country poor in natural resources soil poor in nutrients opposite rich
  10. Word OriginMiddle English: from Old French poure, from Latin pauper. Wordfinderbeg, benefit, charity, homeless, hostel, the poor, poverty, shanty town, sweatshop, unemploymentExtra examples He was getting richer and richer as they got poorer and poorer. The work was of an extremely poor standard. These crops are poor in nutrients. They remained poor all their lives. I may be dirt poor, but I have my pride. I’m afraid I’m rather a poor sailor. It’s among the poorer countries of the world. On the whole he had a poor opinion of human nature. She’s a good teacher but a poor manager. She’s been in poor health for some time now. Such a poor swimmer would not survive in that water for long. They always treated me like a poor relation. We discussed the party’s poor performance in the election. We tried to keep working in the poor light.Idioms
    be/come a poor second, third, etc.
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    (especially British English) to finish a long way behind the winner in a race, competition, etc.
    give a good/poor account of yourself
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    (British English) to do something or perform well or badly, especially in a contest The team gave a good account of themselves in the match.
    the poor man’s somebody/something
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    a person or thing that is similar to but of a lower quality than a particular famous person or thing Sparkling white wine is the poor man's champagne.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: poor