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Community Comment

A Word A Day — dearth

September 28, 2012

Word of the Day

  • dearth
  • audio pronunciation
  • \DERTH\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

noun

1
: scarcity that makes dear; specifically : famine
2
: an inadequate supply : lack
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

Teri had forgotten to bring a book, and the dearth of reading material in her uncle's house had her visiting the town library the first morning of her stay.

“This wryly funny take on the classic ghost story, with its tributes to horror thrillers from Halloween to Friday the 13th and rich cast of characters, has distinctive Tim Burton-esque visuals and a welcome dearth of potty humor.” — From a movie review by Claudia Puig in USA Today, August 17, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

The facts about the history of the word “dearth” are quite simple: the word derives from the Middle English form “derthe,” which has the same meaning as our modern term. That Middle English form is assumed to have developed from an Old English form that was probably spelled “dierth” and was related to “dÄ“ore,” the Old English form that gave us the word “dear.” (“Dear” also once meant “scarce,” but that sense of the word is now obsolete.) Some form of “dearth” has been used to describe things that are in short supply since at least the 13th century, when it often referred to a shortage of food.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.


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