ex·​ig·​u·​ous ig-ˈzi-gyə-wəs How to pronounce exiguous (audio)
: excessively scanty : inadequate
wrest an exiguous existence from the land
exiguous evidence
exiguously adverb
exiguousness noun

Did you know?

Exiguous is so expansive sounding that you might expect it to mean "extensive" instead of "meager." Even a scanty glimpse at the word's etymology will disabuse you of that notion, however. Exiguous derives from the Latin exiguus, which has the same basic meaning as the modern English term. Exiguus, in turn, derives from the Latin verb exigere, which is variously translated as "to demand," "to drive out," or "to weigh or measure." The idea of weighing or measuring so precisely as to be parsimonious or petty gave exiguous its present sense of inadequacy. Just so we aren't accused of being skimpy with the details, we should also mention that exigere is the parent term underlying other English words including exact and exigent.

Examples of exiguous in a Sentence

computer equipment that would be prohibitively expensive, given the rural school's exiguous resources
Recent Examples on the Web And because those games can be exiguous, mid-major teams can ill afford to squander those opportunities when presented. Michael Arinze, Chicago Tribune, 28 Mar. 2023 The holiday sales came as a jolt after China’s exiguous ticket sales of recent weeks. Patrick Brzeski, The Hollywood Reporter, 2 Oct. 2022 Their taste is undeveloped or chronically exiguous. Brian T. Allen, National Review, 2 Apr. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'exiguous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin exiguus, from exigere

First Known Use

1630, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of exiguous was in 1630


Dictionary Entries Near exiguous

Cite this Entry

“Exiguous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exiguous. Accessed 3 Oct. 2023.

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