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    • Join Date: Mar 2009
    • Posts: 2

    'destitute' as a noun

    Hi everyone,

    Can you use 'destitute' as a noun as well as an adjective?

    I had always used it as both until a few days ago when an American colleague of mine told me that she had never heard of it used as a noun. I checked the dictionary and she was right. However, I have heard 'destitute' used as a noun on numerous occasions and want to know what your thoughts are.

    Here is a quote from the British TV show "Absolutely Fabulous":

    Edie: "What is the world coming to when innocent people walking along the street have to give money to destitutes just in case they're journalists, darling?"

    So, is it incorrect? Is it a usage particular to a certain part of the English speaking world? Are the dictionaries I've checked not really comprehensive?


    • Join Date: Feb 2009
    • Posts: 364

    Re: 'destitute' as a noun

    Seems fine to me in my BrE. I have heard homeless people called destitutes.

  1. konungursvia's Avatar
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      • Native Language:
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      • Canada
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    • Join Date: Mar 2009
    • Posts: 5,158

    Re: 'destitute' as a noun

    Quote Originally Posted by thod00 View Post
    Seems fine to me in my BrE. I have heard homeless people called destitutes.
    I agree that it can be used as a noun. This is especially true of Latin adjectives such as this; when England was conquered in 1066 of our era, the Normans changed Old English, essentially a strange dialect of Old Norse, into Middle English, with many Norman-French words and even grammatical structures and phrases. So, the French and Latin freedom to use adjectives as nouns, particularly when dealing with people, was introduced. Not all cases sound right, but in general, it is permitted.

    • Join Date: Mar 2009
    • Posts: 2

    Re: 'destitute' as a noun

    Thanks a lot. That was exactly what I wanted to know.

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