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verb \ˈsper\

Simple Definition of spare

  • : to choose not to punish or harm (someone)

  • : to not destroy or harm (something)

  • : to prevent (someone or something) from experiencing or being affected by something unpleasant, harmful, etc.

Full Definition of spare


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to forbear to destroy, punish, or harm

  3. 2 :  to refrain from attacking or reprimanding with necessary or salutary severity

  4. 3 :  to relieve of the necessity of doing or undergoing something <spare yourself the trouble>

  5. 4 :  to refrain from :  avoid <spared no expense>

  6. 5 :  to use or dispense frugally —used chiefly in the negative <don't spare the syrup>

  7. 6a :  to give up as not strictly needed <do you have any cash to spare>b :  to have left over or as margin <time to spare>

  8. intransitive verb
  9. 1 :  to be frugal

  10. 2 :  to refrain from doing harm

spare·able play \-ə-bəl\ adjective
spar·er noun

Examples of spare

  1. No one knows why the gunman shot some people and spared others.

  2. Somehow the storm spared our house while nearby buildings were destroyed.

  3. She was spared from having to answer any more questions.

  4. He wanted to spare his family from the stress he had endured.

  5. I could have spared myself the trouble.

  6. He spared them the embarrassment of a public apology.

  7. If you could spare a cup of sugar, it would save me a trip to the store.

Origin of spare

Middle English, from Old English sparian; akin to Old High German sparōn to spare, Old English spær, adjective, scant

First Known Use: before 12th century




Simple Definition of spare

  • : kept as something extra that can be used if it is needed

  • : available to be used in whatever way you want

  • : not needed by you and available to be shared or given to someone else

Full Definition of spare


  1. 1 :  not being used; especially :  held for emergency use <a spare tire>

  2. 2 :  being over and above what is needed :  superfluous <spare time>

  3. 3 :  not liberal or profuse :  sparing <a spare prose style>

  4. 4 :  healthily lean

  5. 5 :  not abundant or plentiful

spare·ly adverb
spare·ness noun

Examples of spare

  1. a spare pair of gloves

  2. I keep a spare set of keys in my desk.

  3. He has a spare frame.

  4. He was tall and spare.

  5. I like her spare style of writing.

Origin of spare

Middle English, from Old English spær sparing, scant; akin to Old High German spar spare

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of spare

lean, spare, lank, lanky, gaunt, rawboned, scrawny, skinny mean thin because of an absence of excess flesh. lean stresses lack of fat and of curving contours <a lean racehorse>. spare suggests leanness from abstemious living or constant exercise <the gymnast's spare figure>. lank implies tallness as well as leanness <the lank legs of the heron>. lanky suggests awkwardness and loose-jointedness as well as thinness <a lanky youth, all arms and legs>. gaunt implies marked thinness or emaciation as from overwork or suffering <a prisoner's gaunt face>. rawboned suggests a large ungainly build without implying undernourishment <a rawboned farmer>. scrawny and skinny imply an extreme leanness that suggests deficient strength and vitality <a scrawny chicken> <skinny street urchins>.

meager, scanty, scant, skimpy, spare, sparse mean falling short of what is normal, necessary, or desirable. meager implies the absence of elements, qualities, or numbers necessary to a thing's richness, substance, or potency <a meager portion of meat>. scanty stresses insufficiency in amount, quantity, or extent <supplies too scanty to last the winter>. scant suggests a falling short of what is desired or desirable rather than of what is essential <in January the daylight hours are scant>. skimpy usually suggests niggardliness or penury as the cause of the deficiency <tacky housing developments on skimpy lots>. spare may suggest a slight falling short of adequacy or merely an absence of superfluity <a spare, concise style of writing>. sparse implies a thin scattering of units <a sparse population>.




Simple Definition of spare

  • : something extra that is kept to be used if it is needed

  • bowling : the achievement of knocking down all 10 pins with the first two balls

Full Definition of spare

  1. 1a :  a spare tireb :  a duplicate (as a key or a machine part) kept in reserve

  2. 2 :  the knocking down of all 10 pins with the first 2 balls in a frame in bowling

Examples of spare

  1. I've lost the key. You'll find a spare in the drawer.

  2. If that one breaks, I've got a spare.

  3. Most cars come with spares.

  4. He got a strike and two spares.


First Known Use of spare


Other Automotive Terms

Seen and Heard

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February 10, 2016

to put in good humor

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