What is meant by the word "poor" when referring to people?

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  1. leroy64 profile image64
    leroy64posted 11 years ago

    What is meant by the word "poor" when referring to people?

    The topic has been flying around my circle lately, and while the word poor is a very common word, I get the impression that people have very different views of the meaning.  I am hoping for some clarifications of different positions.

    PS - I can look up the dictionary definition for myself.  I am looking for viewpoints.  I am putting this in Books, Literature, and Writing because I believe writers will have a better grasp of what I am asking rather than political/social science type of writers

  2. backporchstories profile image73
    backporchstoriesposted 11 years ago

    I understand "poor" to mean without neccessities or means to gain the basic needs for living.  However, some poor people can be the richest in heart!  So I can see the conflict.  Likewise, rich people can be poor of disposition.  When using the word "poor", it would probably be better to use additional adverbs and adjetives to accurately convey the meaining.

  3. junkseller profile image80
    junksellerposted 11 years ago

    I lived in a tent for 18 months, but never considered myself poor. While I had little, I was going to school and had a job so had money for food and essentials. For me, I consider being poor to contain two elements: a lack of means, and some systemic issues which prevents one from escaping. These issues can include things like drug abuse, crime, lack of transportation (or access to), health issues, etc.

    Lots of people understand the idea of not having much, which is often what we call poor, but not many people, unless they have experienced it, seem to understand the way systemic issues can keep you locked into that situation. Especially if they are dealing with multiple factors, which I think most people in poverty are.

    1. gmwilliams profile image84
      gmwilliamsposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Well, a person IS poor if he/she has to live in a tent.  A person IS poor if he/she had to work during school in order to have money for essentials.  If that is not poor or being in poverty then what is?

    2. junkseller profile image80
      junksellerposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Deprivation of material means is one way to define it, but for me, what matters more is a deprivation of power to change one's situation. I lacked material means, but not the power to change my circumstances.

  4. kj force profile image60
    kj forceposted 11 years ago

    Word that come to my mind are: indigent,destitute,wanting,needing, lacking necessities, without means...people can have " poor" judgement..just because someone is poor does not necessitate he cannot become wealthy..so I believe the word " poor " is how you perceive it and what you do to eliminate it...just my thoughts..

    1. teaches12345 profile image77
      teaches12345posted 11 years agoin reply to this

      I believe that KJ has a good point in stating that it is in the perception of the word.  There are poor people in deeds, spirit, monetary worth and talent. You can be poor but yet successful.

    2. gmwilliams profile image84
      gmwilliamsposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      If one is poor, he/she is LIKE likely to beome wealthy than those in the upper middle class who have MORE opportunities and advantages.  The average poor and/or impoverished person is relegated to remain poor and/or impoverished.  That is a fact.

  5. Lot Rillera profile image56
    Lot Rilleraposted 11 years ago

    poor means they are the people that can't afford to buy anything they want , such as foods, clothing and shelter. they have to strive harder in order for them to eat three times a day. their income is very low which are not enough to buy their everyday needs.

    1. gmwilliams profile image84
      gmwilliamsposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      + infinity!

  6. phillippeengel profile image82
    phillippeengelposted 11 years ago

    To me, being poor is being deprived of financial resources to eat and live comfortably. You are poor when you do not have a single job for months, or even years, for whatever reason, or when you owe a heavy debt to others which seems too astronomical. You are poor when you do not have money to eat 'normally' because you can only afford to eat bread, rice and vegetables in small amounts, and not meat, pork, poultry and other luxury food.

    1. gmwilliams profile image84
      gmwilliamsposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      THANK YOU!

  7. joanake profile image60
    joanakeposted 11 years ago

    As mentioned that the word "poor" is used very loosely because it is so subjective, my personal definition of poor is when the person in question feels that they are strongly lacking something that is supposed to make their lives fulfilled, over a sustained period of time.

    It doesn't necessary has to equate to monetary terms although many people are mistaken that money is what they need to be happy. In essence, money is a piece of paper, a middleman that evolved from the old days of barter trade. Money is the medium to which many people measure their progress to achieving whatever they dream of. It is a means to an end. To me, being poor is lacking the 'ends', rather than the 'means'. As the saying goes "when there's a will, there's a way" - there will always be other 'means' if you have the will.

  8. DeanCash profile image60
    DeanCashposted 11 years ago

    Poor is simply means lacking of something. A person is considered poor because he or she has few or no possessions or no wealth - but actually they are poor because they don't know how to get it, they don't know how to desire for something. That is what is lacking to them.

    So when you like to have something into your life you need to desire it and focus on it.

    1. gmwilliams profile image84
      gmwilliamsposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      A great spiritual perspective on this question!

  9. feenix profile image58
    feenixposted 11 years ago

    When I was a young person, I was "poor"; but yet, I was not "poor" at all.

    You see, others have viewed me as being "poor," but I have never viewed myself as being that way.

    Actually, I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth and I have been wealthy my entire life.

    That is quite true because I was fortunate enough to have been born in the U.S.A.; I had the privilege of serving in my country's military forces; I have always had good health; I have a wonderful family and lots of terrific friends; I write well enough to be a frequent contributor to HubPages, and I could go on.

    1. gmwilliams profile image84
      gmwilliamsposted 9 years agoin reply to this


  10. Vasiliki Bouras profile image60
    Vasiliki Bourasposted 11 years ago

    Poor to me is when you dont have any money for the essentials as opposed to being broke, in which you live pay check to pay check but you are able to acquire basic necessities.

  11. Express10 profile image85
    Express10posted 11 years ago

    The word poor can have a couple of different meanings depending upon how it is used. Often it's a term meant to show that someone or a group is lacking financial means to do as they would prefer or live up to others "minimum" standards. Other times the word poor means that a person or group is lacking knowledge or intelligence. It means lacking one or the other, so it isn't considered a positive term.

    1. gmwilliams profile image84
      gmwilliamsposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Poor is not positive, in fact, it is indeed negative.  Poor is lack whether a person is socioeconomically poor or a person is a poor student.  Poor means subpar, not even average. Yet there are people who glorify being poor-who wants to be SUBPAR?

  12. Pennypines profile image59
    Pennypinesposted 11 years ago

    My only experience with dire poverty was during World War II in Japan, where we were evicted from our long time home (as enemy aliens), forced to move inland to a tiny village where temperatures dropped to 12 below zero during the winter months, carried water from a stream about a quarter mile away and used an outhouse.  Food was rationed to starvation level, so in spite of the short growing season we ploughed and sowed to feed ourselves.
    Yet somehow or another we learned to survive, there were many others beside ourselves in the same circumstances, and we engaged in a sort of cameraderie that would be difficult to duplicate in todays' world. 
    So poverty is not always as dire as it is cracked up to be.  I would not want to repeat it, but I occasionally look back with fondness on the simplicity of our lives.

  13. landscapeartist profile image60
    landscapeartistposted 11 years ago

    People tend to think of being poor as living in a hovel, or hut with no shoes on your feet, or no food in the house.  The word 'poor' actually covers an actual income bracket.  If your family income is below a certain amount then you are considered poor. 
    Its hard to define poverty or poor.  One such site describes it as an 'inability to meet basic needs - or in relative terms - distance from the community norm'.
    I hope that helps clarify things a little.

    1. gmwilliams profile image84
      gmwilliamsposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      GREAT, SUCCINCT answer indeed.  Being poor is struggling from day to day even to meet the very basic and rudimentary needs.

  14. teresapelka profile image81
    teresapelkaposted 11 years ago

    There are ups and downs; the adjective 'poor' would imply inferior quality about attributes or actions; it would be closer to the financial status when referred to people, who might be not so much of an inferior quality even if deprived of means.

    As a flat adverb, like in 'you did that real poor, you know', the primary reference would be probably to the quality of an action, not anyone's financial status.

    These are just my intuitions. I'd be grateful if you'd have a look to the verb 'succumb' and share yours. smile

    http://teresapelka.hubpages.com/questio … or-a-human

    The question refers to my hub on modern American,


  15. gmwilliams profile image84
    gmwilliamsposted 9 years ago


    Poor means living at the lowest socioeconomic level possible.  Being poor means have limited socioeconomic choices for yourself and your family.  Being poor means not having enough money to live a civilized, cultural life.  It is living in the lowest, most primitive conditions possible. 

    Being poor means having the crumbs of life and always being on the outside looking in terms of socioeconomic standards.  Being poor means being homeless due to fluctuating socioeconomic conditions.  Being poor means being always at the behest of more powerful, successful, and authoritative people.  Being poor is in essence being a socioeconomic slave which is being owned and powerless.  Being poor is having no voice in the societal scheme of things.  A poor person is always owned as he/she does not have the means to be the owner of his/her life, circumstances, and events.

    Being poor means that there will be more limited opportunities to ever escape impoverished.  In essence, a poor/impoverished child will be a poor/impoverished adult as his/her chances for socioeconomic betterment will be quite nil. Being poor is the socioeconomic equivalent to hell; something that IS to be AVOIDED at all costs.   

    Being poor is being on the lowest rung of the societal pecking order.  It is being society's outcasts and losers.  It is being derided and disrespected because it is believed that the person does not possess the wherewithal to have the means to live and provide a substantiative socioeconomic life for himself/herself and her family.

    Being poor is a child born under an omimous and damnable cloud.  He/she is damned from the start.  He/she will have inferior or no health care.  He/she will attend inferior quality schools which will handicap him/her from learning the prerequisite educational skills for further education or success in the work world.  More likely, he/she will have to discontinue his/her education to supplement familial income.  He/she will live in neighborhoods which make concentration camps seem like heaven.   He/she will have lifelong deleterious effects physically, mentally, psychologically, even psychically as a result of being born poor/impoverished.   To conclude, being poor is analogous to being in hell.  Remember the saying regarding hell: abandon all hope ye who enter here.   Well, that is life for the poor; there is NO HOPE whatsoever for them.


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