poor (adj.)

c. 1200, "lacking money or resources, destitute of wealth; needy, indigent;" also "small, scanty," also voluntarily and deliberately, "devoid of possessions in conformity with Christian virtues," from Old French povre "poor, wretched, dispossessed; inadequate; weak, thin" (Modern French pauvre), from Latin pauper "poor, not wealthy," from pre-Latin *pau-paros "producing little; getting little," a compound from the roots of paucus "little" (from PIE root *pau- (1) "few, little") and parare "to produce, bring forth" (from PIE root *pere- (1) "to produce, procure").

It replaced Old English earm (from Proto-Germanic *arma-, which is of disputed origin). Late 13c. as "unfortunate, to be pitied or regretted." In contemptuous use, "morally inferior, miserable, wretched," by early 15c. Used figuratively ("spiritually poor") from early 14c. (to be poor in spirit is to be "spiritually humble"). Meaning "deficient in desirable or essential qualities" is from c. 1300. In reference to inhabited places from c. 1300; of soil, etc., from late 14c. In modest or apologetic use, "humble, slight, insignificant," from early 15c.

The poor boy sandwich, made of simple but filling ingredients, was invented and named in New Orleans in 1921. To poor mouth "deny one's advantages" is from 1965 (to make a poor mouth "whine" is Scottish dialect from 1822). Slang poor man's________ "the cheaper alternative to _______," is from 1854. Poor relation "relative or kinsman in humble circumstances" is by 1720.

poor (n.)

"poor persons collectively," mid-12c., from poor (adj.). The Latin adjective pauper "poor" also was used in a noun sense "a poor man." Middle English used poorlet (late 14c.) "poor man, wretched person" to translate Latin paupercula in the Bible.

updated on September 04, 2020

Definitions of poor from WordNet
poor (adj.)
deserving or inciting pity; "the shabby room struck her as extraordinarily pathetic"- Galsworthy;
his poor distorted limbs
Oh, you poor thing
Synonyms: hapless / miserable / misfortunate / pathetic / piteous / pitiable / pitiful / wretched
poor (adj.)
having little money or few possessions;
the proverbial poor artist living in a garret
deplored the gap between rich and poor countries
poor (adj.)
characterized by or indicating poverty;
they lived in the poor section of town
the country had a poor economy
poor (adj.)
lacking in quality or substances;
a poor land
the food in the cafeteria was of poor quality
the area was poor in timber and coal
food poor in nutritive value
poor (adj.)
of insufficient quantity to meet a need;
the jejune diets of the very poor
a poor salary
Synonyms: inadequate / short / jejune
poor (n.)
people without possessions or wealth (considered as a group);
the urban poor need assistance
Synonyms: poor people
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