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

Definition of meager 

1 : having little flesh : thin meager were his looks, sharp misery had worn him to the bones— William Shakespeare

2a : lacking desirable qualities (such as richness or strength) leading a meager life

b : deficient in quality or quantity a meager diet

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Other Words from meager

meagerly adverb
meagerness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of meager in a Sentence

Every morning he eats a meager breakfast of toast and coffee. We'll have to do the best we can with this year's meager harvest. She came to this country with a fairly meager English vocabulary, but she is learning more words every day. They suffered through several meager years at the beginning of their marriage. Although she's now rich and famous, she remembers her meager beginnings as a child from a poor family.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Growth is meager, and unemployment is 11.2 percent, more than three times the rate in Germany. Jack Ewing, New York Times, "As Uncertainty Clouds Economy, Europe Pulls Back on Easy Money," 14 June 2018 That has not been helped by seeing two of his peers, Messi and Neymar, sign contracts that far outstrip his own, not exactly meager, earnings. Rory Smith, New York Times, "Ronaldo Leaves Real Madrid to Join Juventus," 10 July 2018 While most are meager, a few turn beastly, exactly as was the case on Monday night. Matthew Cappucci, Washington Post, "‘One of the most incredible sights’: Monster dust storm sweeps across Southern Arizona," 10 July 2018 And for a good 10 years, Shaidayi had a steady, albeit meager, flow of students. Maija Liuhto, Longreads, "A Music So Beautiful the Birds Fell from the Trees," 28 June 2018 For the fast-switching uninitiated, here's a quick (and admittedly meager) primer. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Oculus Go review: The wireless-VR future begins today for only $199," 1 May 2018 The cheapest ETFs now cost just $3 a year for every $10,000 invested, and some analysts predict that even those meager fees could shrink even further. Asjylyn Loder, WSJ, "Investors Win From ETF Price War," 12 July 2018 Its lack of public debate has angered many Russians, who depend on the meager monthly payments to survive. Sabra Ayres,, "World Cup gives Russia a global makeover, but how long will that last?," 10 July 2018 But years with a meager snowpack may cause quite a few mosquitoes to freeze and die during frigid weather. Ned Rozell, Anchorage Daily News, "Only female mosquitoes bother us (and other facts about the insects Alaskans love to hate)," 7 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of meager

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for meager

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

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Statistics for meager

Last Updated

18 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for meager

The first known use of meager was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for meager



English Language Learners Definition of meager

: very small or too small in amount

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


variants: or meagre \ˈmē-gər \

Kids Definition of meager

1 : not enough in quality or amount a meager income

2 : having little flesh : thin

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Comments on meager

What made you want to look up meager? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


evasion of direct action or statement

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