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[im-pov-er-ish, -pov-rish] /ɪmˈpɒv ər ɪʃ, -ˈpɒv rɪʃ/
verb (used with object)
to reduce to poverty:
a country impoverished by war.
to make poor in quality, productiveness, etc.; exhaust the strength or richness of:
Bad farming practices impoverished the soil.
Origin of impoverish
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English empoverishen < Middle French empovriss- (long stem of empovrir), equivalent to em- em-1 + povre poor + -iss -ish2
Related forms
impoverisher, noun
impoverishment, noun
2. deplete, drain; weaken, enervate, fatigue, cripple.
1, 2. enrich. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for impoverishment
  • In age, he shows no impoverishment of spirit or weakening of intention.
  • But the writer remains dispirited by the impoverishment that comes with this closing of the mind to novelty.
  • But the symptoms of collective impoverishment are all about us.
  • Yet the fading of agriculture did not bring impoverishment to these countries.
  • But the cost of devaluation will be high inflation and impoverishment of the people.
  • Anything the state attempts outside of its area of competence is doomed to failure and to causing misery and impoverishment.
  • It encourages rent seeking and the impoverishment of the many in favor of the few.
  • So leave it at that: different languages, accents or dialects are a source of cultural wealth not impoverishment.
  • Let's face it: education is no longer considered the ticket out of impoverishment.
  • The enrichment of the core is structurally dependent on the impoverishment of the periphery.
British Dictionary definitions for impoverishment


verb (transitive)
to make poor or diminish the quality of: to impoverish society by cutting the grant to the arts
to deprive (soil, etc) of fertility
Derived Forms
impoverisher, noun
impoverishment, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Old French empovrir, from povrepoor
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for impoverishment

1550s; see impoverish + -ment.



early 15c., empoverischen, from Old French empoveriss-, stem of empoverir, from em- + povre "poor" (see poor). Related: Impoverished; impoverishing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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