adj. poor·er, poor·est
a. Having insufficient wealth to meet the necessities or comforts of life or to live in a manner considered acceptable in a society.
b. Relating to or characterized by poverty: the poor side of town.
2. Deficient or lacking in a specified resource or quality: an area poor in timber and coal; a diet poor in calcium.
3. Not adequate in quality or quantity; inferior: a poor performance; poor wages.
4. Negative, unfavorable, or disapproving: has a poor opinion of the mayor.
5. Undernourished; lean. Used especially of animals.
6. Humble; meek: "Let the humble ones arise, the poor in heart be glad" (John Greenleaf Whittier).
7. Eliciting or deserving pity; pitiable: couldn't rescue the poor fellow.
n. (used with a pl. verb)
Poor people considered as a group: The urban poor are in need of homes.
[Middle English poure, from Old French povre, from Latin pauper; see pau-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Usage Note: In informal speech poor is sometimes used as an adverb, as in They never played poorer. In formal usage more poorly would be required in this example.
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.