adjective mea·ger \ ˈmē-gər \
variants: or meagre
|Updated on: 21 Aug 2018

Definition of meager

1 : having little flesh : thin
  • meager were his looks, sharp misery had worn him to the bones
  • —William Shakespeare
2 a : lacking desirable qualities (such as richness or strength)
  • leading a meager life
b : deficient in quality or quantity
  • a meager diet





Examples of meager in a Sentence

  1. Every morning he eats a meager breakfast of toast and coffee.

  2. We'll have to do the best we can with this year's meager harvest.

  3. She came to this country with a fairly meager English vocabulary, but she is learning more words every day.

  4. They suffered through several meager years at the beginning of their marriage.

  5. Although she's now rich and famous, she remembers her meager beginnings as a child from a poor family.

Recent Examples of meager from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'meager.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of meager

Middle English megre, from Anglo-French megre, meigre, from Latin macr-, macer lean; akin to Old English mæger lean, Greek makros long

Synonym Discussion of meager

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

MEAGER Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of meager for English Language Learners

  • : very small or too small in amount

  • : not having enough of something (such as money or food) for comfort or happiness

MEAGER Defined for Kids


adjective mea·ger
variants: or meagre \ˈmē-gər\

Definition of meager for Students

1 : not enough in quality or amount
  • a meager income
2 : having little flesh : thin

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