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[pen-yuh-ree] /ˈpɛn yə ri/
extreme poverty; destitution.
scarcity; dearth; inadequacy; insufficiency.
Origin of penury
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin pēnūria; akin to Greek peîna hunger, penía poverty
1. indigence, need, want.
1. wealth. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for penury
  • Graduate school penury in the Midwest was romantic by comparison.
  • Zafar died five years later in penury and exile.
  • The authors of the recent triumphs received their university training in the good old days of penury on private funds.
  • But in penury, arrogance and conceit may give way to humility, diplomacy and learning to be discreet.
  • Discontent has simmered, over corruption, economic penury and government thuggishness.
  • In their battle for power, these two parties have reduced their country to rubble and their countrymen to penury.
  • But this air of possibility amidst penury is in peril.
  • The story of Nauru's descent from prosperity to penury is one of the most cautionary tales of modern development.
  • Henceforth, though he never stood at the stake, he suffered the martyrdom of penury and distress.
  • Most of the remainder have been reduced to penury.
British Dictionary definitions for penury


extreme poverty
extreme scarcity
Word Origin
C15: from Latin pēnūria dearth, of obscure origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for penury

c.1400, from Latin penuria "want, need; scarcity," related to paene "scarcely."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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