Dictionary

1scarce

adjective \ˈskers\

: very small in amount or number : not plentiful

scarc·erscarc·est

Full Definition of SCARCE

1
:  deficient in quantity or number compared with the demand :  not plentiful or abundant
2
:  intentionally absent <made himself scarce at inspection time>
scarce·ness noun

Examples of SCARCE

  1. Food was getting scarce during the drought.
  2. <food was a bit scarce last winter>

Origin of SCARCE

Middle English scars, from Anglo-French eschars, escars narrow, stingy, deficient, from Vulgar Latin *excarpsus, literally, plucked out, past participle of Latin excerpere to pluck out — more at excerpt
First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of SCARCE

infrequent, uncommon, scarce, rare, sporadic mean not common or abundant. infrequent implies occurrence at wide intervals in space or time <infrequent family visits>. uncommon suggests a frequency below normal expectation <smallpox is now uncommon in many countries>. scarce implies falling short of a standard or required abundance <jobs were scarce during the Depression>. rare suggests extreme scarcity or infrequency and often implies consequent high value <rare first editions>. sporadic implies occurrence in scattered instances or isolated outbursts <sporadic cases of influenza>.

2scarce

adverb

: almost not at all : scarcely or hardly

Full Definition of SCARCE

:  scarcely, hardly <scarce was independence half a century old, when a…split occurred — John McPhee>

Examples of SCARCE

  1. I could scarce believe what I was hearing.

First Known Use of SCARCE

15th century
SCARCE Defined for Kids

1scarce

adjective \ˈskers\
scarc·erscarc·est

Definition of SCARCE for Kids

:  not plentiful <Food was scarce during the war.>

2scarce

adverb

Definition of SCARCE for Kids

:  hardly, scarcely <… I could scarce conceal a shudder when he laid his hand upon my arm. — Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island>

Browse

Next Word in the Dictionary: scarcelyPrevious Word in the Dictionary: scarb–treeAll Words Near: scarce
July 05, 2015
bunkum Hear it
insincere or foolish talk
Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!
How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.
Test your vocab with our fun, fast game
Ailurophobia, and 9 other unusual fears