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dearth (n.)

c. 1300, derthe "scarcity of food," of other situations of scarcity by mid-14c., abstract noun from root of Old English deore "precious, costly" (see dear) + abstract noun suffix -th (2). A common Germanic formation, though not always with the same sense (Old Saxon diurtha "splendor, glory, love," Middle Dutch dierte, Dutch duurte, Old High German tiurida "glory"). Presumably the connecting sense in English is that, in famines, food is costly because scarce.

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