1. A scarce supply; a lack: "the dearth of uncensored, firsthand information about the war" (Richard Zoglin).
2. Shortage of food; famine.
[Middle English derthe, from Old English *dēorthu, costliness, from dēore, costly; see DEAR1.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.