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poor form

Behavior or actions that are considered socially inappropriate, distasteful, or rude. It is generally acknowledged that pointing out a person's flaws in public is quite poor form.
See also: form, poor

house poor

Having the majority of one's income going towards the high costs of one's home, such as mortgage or rent, property tax, utilities, etc., leaving very little money remaining for other expenditures. I love our home, but neither of us can really afford this high rent, and it's making us rather house poor as a result.
See also: house, poor


Owning a large amount of land that is unprofitable and being without the means to maintain it or capitalize on its fertility. My fool of a husband used our savings to buy a big plot of land out west, and we've been land-poor for the last 10 years as a result.

po' boy

A traditional sandwich from New Orleans, Louisiana, made with a long roll of French bread and containing a variety of fillings, almost always with some kind of meat or fried seafood. ("Po' boy" being short for "poor boy," supposedly referring to striking workers in 1929 to whom a local restaurant served such sandwiches.) Primarily heard in US. Ever since leaving New Orleans to go to college, I can't stop craving a proper roast beef po' boy from back home. I'm ordering a dozen po' boys for the party, so if you have any food allergies, let me know this afternoon.
See also: boy

a poor craftsman blames his tools

If someone performs a job or task poorly or unsuccessfully, he or she will usually lay the blame on the quality of his or her equipment, or other such external factors, rather than take responsibility for his or her own failure. After John spent all day assembling his new desk only to discover it was lopsided, he immediately declared that the package must have contained the wrong pieces. His wife replied, "only poor craftsmen blame their tools, dear."
See also: blame, poor, tool

poor man's

A less desirable substitute for the genuine item. The local artist became known as the poor man's Picasso. I was happy with my new car, even though my friends called it a poor man's Jaguar.
See also: poor

poor relation

A less desirable substitute for the genuine item. The cheap motorcycle jacket I bought is nice, but it is a poor relation of actual leather.
See also: poor, relation

be as poor as church mice

To have little to no money. Now that we're paying a mortgage, we're as poor as church mice.
See also: church, mice, poor

in bad taste

 and in poor taste
rude; vulgar; obscene. Mrs. Franklin felt that your joke was in bad taste. We found the play to be in poor taste, so we walked out in the middle of the second act.
See also: bad, taste

It is a poor heart that never rejoices.

 and It is a sad heart that never rejoices.
Prov. Even a habitually sad person cannot be sad all the time. (Sometimes used to indicate that a habitually sad person is happy about something.) Jill: I've never seen Sam smile before, but today, at his retirement party, he smiled. Jane: It is a poor heart that never rejoices.
See also: heart, never, poor, rejoice

land so poor it wouldn't even raise a fuss

 and land too poor to raise a racket on
Rur. land where nothing will grow. I inherited two hundred acres from my uncle, but it's land so poor it wouldn't even raise a fuss. The soil's exhausted. That land is so poor it wouldn't even raise a fuss. Jill can grow a garden anywhere, even on land too poor to raise a racket on.
See also: even, fuss, land, poor, raise

one law for the rich and another for the poor

Prov. Rich people are sometimes able to escape without punishment when they commit crimes, while poor people are usually punished. It doesn't seem fair—rich people can avoid paying their taxes and not get in trouble, but poor people are always punished if they don't pay. We shouldn't have one law for the rich and another for the poor.
See also: and, another, law, one, poor, rich

*poor as a church mouse

 and *poor as church mice
very poor. (*Also: as ~.) My aunt is as poor as a church mouse. The Browns are poor as church mice.
See also: church, mouse, poor

poor but clean

Cliché having little money but clean and of good habits, nonetheless. (Either extremely condescending or jocular. Some people would consider it offensive.) My salary isn't very high, and I only have one old car. Anyway, I'm poor but clean. When Fred uttered the phrase "poor but clean" in reference to some of the people working in the yard, Ellen went into a rage.
See also: but, clean, poor


extremely poor Most of the population in this undeveloped area were dirt-poor and jobless.

a poor man's somebody/something

someone or something that is similar to a well-known person or thing but is not as good He was only ever a mediocre singer - they used to call him 'the poor man's Frank Sinatra'. 'So what did you think of the film?' 'It was just a poor man's 'Pulp Fiction'.'
See also: poor

a poor relation

someone or something that is believed to be less important than another similar person or thing Video, once seen as the poor relation of cinema, is now a major source of revenue for film companies.
See also: poor, relation

be as poor as church mice

to be very poor When we first got married, we were as poor as church mice.
See also: church, mice, poor

poor as a churchmouse

Having little or no wealth and few possessions, as in She's poor as a churchmouse, so you can't expect her to donate anything. The reason for this long-used simile is unclear, but most believe that, since churches are not known for storing food, a mouse inside one would fare poorly. It has survived such earlier phrases as poor as Job. [Second half of 1600s]
See also: poor

poor relation

An inferior member of a group, as in Many regard Turkey as the poor relation in the European alliance. This expression, first recorded in 1720 for a family member in humble circumstances, began to be used figuratively in the mid-1900s.
See also: poor, relation

poor taste, in

Also, in bad taste. Not suitable, unseemly, offensive, as in His criticism of the Pope was in poor taste, or That television interview was in very bad taste. These idioms use taste in the sense of "discernment of what is appropriate."
See also: poor


1. mod. of very poor quality. (Usually objectionable.) This is piss-poor coffee. Pay the bill and let’s go.
2. mod. without any money; broke. (Usually objectionable.) Tell those piss-poor jerks to go beg somewhere else.


1. tv. to speak ill of someone. (see also bad-mouth.) Please don’t poor-mouth my brother.
2. in. to speak repeatedly of how little money one has; to plead poverty. Spend more time looking for a job and less time poor-mouthing.


1. and sub and hoagy and torpedo and grinder and poor boy and hero n. a long sandwich containing many different foods. (Sometimes many feet long. It is cut into smaller segments for serving a group. Usually contains sliced meats and cheese, as well as tomatoes and onions. Terms vary depending on where you are in the country.) He ordered a submarine, but he couldn’t finish it.
2. n. a large marijuana cigarette. Look at the size of that sub!
3. n. [menstrual] tampon. My God! I’m out of submarines!

poor boy

See also: boy, poor

poor as Job's turkey

Poverty-stricken. The biblical Job's hardships did not bode well for any barnyard creatures that depended on him for sustenance. This wonderfully descriptive old Southern phrase says all that needs to be said about someone in dire financial straits.
See also: poor, turkey

poor little rich girl

Unhappy heiress. In contrast to Job's turkey, the subject of this phrase wants for nothing—except emotional support. The original “poor little rich girl” was socialite Barbara Hutton, heiress to the Woolworth (“Five and Dime” stores) and E. F. Hutton investment banking fortunes. She had a lonely childhood, seven failed— and in many cases, exploitive—marriages, and died a broken (and nearly broke) woman at age sixty-six. The phrase has been applied to other women whose lives were sad in spite (or perhaps because of inherited wealth).
See also: girl, little, poor, rich
References in periodicals archive ?
It said that each percent of a negative GDP growth rate and its resulting impact on wage cuts in these poorer eurozone countries increased suicide rates by 0.
I worked with nine and ten-year-old children from two different areas, one affluent and one poorer area, in the North of England.
Immigrants from poorer countries are also seen as more likely to abuse or rely on the welfare system, to which they have not contributed, causing taxes to rise (Hainmueller and Hiscox, 2010).
Using planning laws to prevent the betting industry clustering around poorer communities is more difficult, but it ought to be tried.
The risk of emotional problems and poorer family functioning increased with each additional hour of watching TV or electronic game and computer use.
But you do wonder if withdrawing funding for these bursaries - the council certainly doesn't have any spare cash - might not just entrench the divide between wealthy and poorer children, not break it.
Facilitating the access to credit for the poorer workers is another avenue to increase their income, especially for the self-employed, as this may allow them to benefit from asset-price-generated wealth.
Academics from the University of Southampton said that these factors did not completely explain why black women have poorer survival rates, particularly those with the type of breast cancer that is expected to be sensitive to hormones.
Among those who survived the first 28 days after stroke, current smokers had a 42 percent higher risk of poorer outcomes.
Schools should use the premium for its stated purpose - helping poorer children and improving social mobility.
Real incomes for middle income and poorer households have fallen every year since the start of 2008 and are set to drop again this year by 0.
Concerns have now been raised that with institutions hiking their tuition fees, such as Durham University raising them to the maximum pounds 9,000 a year, it could prevent poorer young people from the North East going on to study a degree.
RESEARCHERS are to examine whether poorer students find it more difficult to fit in at England's top universities - and their experiences of gaining a job afterwards.
Summary: Generous bursaries, usually offered by the most selective universities, are failing to attract poorer students.
The findings show socio-economic status has little impact on a pupil's achievement in the last four years of primary school for most minority ethnic groups, with both richer and poorer pupils making similar progress.