The word poverty comes from the Old French word poverte, which comes from the Latin word paupertas, which is composed of pauper, meaning "poor", and -tas, a common suffix. If you're thinking it, yes, the Latin root pauper is the direct root of the modern word pauper, or "poor person". It gets even more meta, though, when I tell you that Latin pauper is also the root of today's word poor (through Old French povre and poure then through Middle English povre and povere). All these connections unite there at pauper, and then as one they go back to pavopars, a primordial jumble in Old Latin that meant "getting little" and ultimately is from the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European root pehw, or "few". So if you're a politician wanting to blame poverty levels on something, I suggest Proto-Indo-European. Also, out of the three words we've discussed, poor of course has the highest usage because of the secondary definitions it developed.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a rising junior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.