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poor mouth

noun, Informal.
a person who continually complains about a lack of money.
a plea or complaint of poverty, often as an excuse for not contributing to charities, paying bills, etc.
cry poor mouth, to complain, especially habitually, about a lack of money.
Also, talk a poor mouth.
Origin of poor mouth


[poo r-mouth] /ˈpʊərˌmaʊθ/ Informal.
verb (used without object), poor-mouthed
[poo r-moutht, -mouth d] /ˈpʊərˌmaʊθt, -ˌmaʊðd/ (Show IPA),
to lament or argue that one is too poor; plead poverty.
verb (used with object), poor-mouthed
[poo r-moutht, -mouth d] /ˈpʊərˌmaʊθt, -ˌmaʊðd/ (Show IPA),
to declare (one's ability, power, position, etc.) to be inadequate or disappointing, sometimes as an intentional understatement; downplay:
We know you're just poor-mouthing your skill at playing bridge—you're a good player.
1965-70; Americanism; orig. in verb phrases put up a poor mouth, make a poor mouth Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for poor mouth
Historical Examples
  • Why does a horse go as fast as he can when he is cruelly whipped, and his poor mouth wounded by the hard bit?

    Kindness to Animals Charlotte Elizabeth
  • Just such a poor mouth you had, Julius, when we wanted on the second story.

    Just Around the Corner Fannie Hurst
  • Alfred, Alfred, you are making a poor mouth of it to get out of marrying Ellie.

    Heartbreak House George Bernard Shaw
  • Master Alleyn, don't make a poor mouth; you're none so needy.

    Master Skylark John Bennett
  • But he took a curious, excited pleasure in the thought of the 'poor mouth' he was going to make to Hannah.

    The History of David Grieve Mrs. Humphry Ward
  • I looked at his portraits, a heavy, almost froggish face, with projecting eyes and a thick moustache to hide a poor mouth.

    The World Set Free Herbert George Wells
  • Always a great one for a poor mouth he was, Mr. Teitlebaum, even when he had it.

    Just Around the Corner Fannie Hurst
  • See, children, just as soon as I say a word, mad like a wet hen he gets and right away puts on a poor mouth.

    Just Around the Corner Fannie Hurst
  • poor mouth; making the poor mouth is trying to persuade people you are very poor—making out or pretending that you are poor.

  • And yet I am told that the old woman was not accustomed to "make a poor mouth," as the saying goes.

British Dictionary definitions for poor mouth

poor mouth

unjustified complaining, esp to excite sympathy: she always has the poor mouth
verb (transitive)
(informal) to speak of disparagingly; decry
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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Slang definitions & phrases for poor mouth



  1. To deny one's wealth and advantages; emphasize one's deficiencies; Talk Poor Mouth: Richard Nixon often poor-mouthed his chances (1965+)
  2. To deprecate severely; bad-mouth: I'm not going around poor-mouthing the war (1967+)

[make a poor mouth, ''to whine, make the worst of things,'' is found as Scots dialect by 1822]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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