Definition of impoverish in English:

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Pronunciation: /imˈpäv(ə)riSH/


[with object]
1Make (a person or area) poor: they discourage investment and impoverish their people (as adjective impoverished) impoverished peasant farmers
More example sentences
  • The shirts will then be distributed to some of the most impoverished areas of the Macedonian capital.
  • The costs of treatment or even testing for the disease is seen as prohibitive in such impoverished areas.
  • Such companies, the argument goes, exploit poor workers abroad and impoverish workers at home by moving capital overseas.
make poor, make penniless, reduce to penury, bankrupt, beggar, ruin, bring to ruin, make insolvent
rare pauperize
poor, poverty-stricken, penniless, destitute, indigent, impecunious, needy, beggared, beggarly, pauperized, down-and-out, bankrupt, ruined, insolvent
informal (flat) broke, hard up, dirt poor, on skid row
formal penurious
1.1Exhaust the strength, vitality, or natural fertility of: the soil was impoverished by annual burning (as adjective impoverished) figurative an impoverished and debased language
More example sentences
  • Prolonged military confrontation… will impoverish our resources and strength, while retarding our march to civilization by at least a hundred years.
  • They impoverish soil and destroy habitat, including wetlands.
  • All those obscenities and repeated slang phrases may be authentic but they tend to impoverish the language of his books.
weaken, sap, exhaust, deplete, enervate
informal bleed
weakened, exhausted, drained, sapped, depleted, spent;
barren, unproductive, unfertile, unfruitful


Late Middle English (formerly also as empoverish): from Old French empoveriss-, lengthened stem of empoverir, based on povre 'poor'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: im·pov·er·ish

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