Penury means extreme poverty to the point of homelessness and begging in the streets. Economic downturns, job loss, shopping sprees, and weekends at the high rollers' table in Vegas can lead to penury.

  • Pronunciation: / 'pɛnjəri/
  • English description: a state of extreme poverty or destitution
  • Synonyms: indigence
  • Chinese Translation: 赤贫(chi4 pin2)
  • Spanish Translation: penuria
  • ORIGIN: Penury comes from the Latin word penuria, which, though it sounds like something contagious, actually means scarcity. It's not a word that turns up often in casual conversation or even on nightly newscasts. You're more apt to spot it in a college textbook or maybe an editorial in The New York Times.


  • The failure of professors' salaries to keep pace with the inflation rate, topping 190% this year, has reduced many academics to penury.
  • Crops failed and most of the country’s livestock perished, forcing millions of farmers into penury.

*New word description, story and part of "EXAMPLE SENTENCE" are cited in Vocabulary