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[des-ti-toot, -tyoot] /ˈdɛs tɪˌtut, -ˌtyut/
without means of subsistence; lacking food, clothing, and shelter.
deprived of, devoid of, or lacking (often followed by of):
destitute of children.
verb (used with object), destituted, destituting.
to leave destitute.
Origin of destitute
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin dēstitūtus (past participle of dēstituere to abandon, deprive of support), equivalent to dē- de- + stit- place, put (combining form of statuere; see statute) + -ū- thematic vowel + -tus past participle suffix
Related forms
destitutely, adverb
destituteness, noun
predestitute, adjective
undestitute, adjective
1. needy, poor, indigent, necessitous, penniless, impoverished. 2. deficient.
1. affluent. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for destitute
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • If they were destitute of this right, they would not be sovereign.

    American Institutions and Their Influence Alexis de Tocqueville et al.
  • It is often seen in pictures and portraits.403 It is inelegant and destitute of meaning.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • But when he came to our house, he soon lost all he had; and then we plotted together and left him destitute.

  • This region, as might be supposed, is not destitute of inhabitants.

    The Western World W.H.G. Kingston
  • He was stripped of everything, and has been, for the past two years, in destitute circumstances.

    The Allen House T. S. Arthur
British Dictionary definitions for destitute


lacking the means of subsistence; totally impoverished
(postpositive) foll by of. completely lacking; deprived or bereft (of): destitute of words
(obsolete) abandoned or deserted
Derived Forms
destituteness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Latin dēstitūtus forsaken, from dēstituere to leave alone, from statuere to place
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 destitute

late 14c., "abandoned, forsaken," from Latin destitutus "abandoned," past participle of destituere "forsake," from de- "away" + statuere "put, place," causative of stare "to stand," from PIE root *sta- "to stand" (see stet). Originally literal; sense of "lacking resources, impoverished" is 1530s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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