meager

adjective
mea·​ger | \ ˈmē-gər How to pronounce meager (audio) \
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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web In the US Congress, for instance, the number of Arab Americans is still meager. Mirna Alsharif And Brandon Tensley, CNN, 28 Apr. 2022 Zepeda Patterson said the president’s incendiary narrative could be a strategy to maintain his popularity despite the meager results of his economic policies. Washington Post, 9 Apr. 2022 But in the space of just seven days, Cleveland hitters managed to produce a meager 0.3 fWAR and tumbled to 20% below league average run creation with an 80 wRC+ against the Yankees and Angels. Joe Noga, cleveland, 28 Apr. 2022 The confinement camps had schools, farmland and work facilities, though jobs only offered meager pay. Shelby Slade, The Arizona Republic, 16 Apr. 2022 Both are averaging 16 points per game in a Mavericks uniform this season, and both have shown an ability to find success against the meager Jazz perimeter defense. Andy Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, 14 Apr. 2022 The public has meager interest in supporting Ukraine’s defense against an invading Russian force, although there is zero appetite for sending U.S. troops to repel the aggression. Philip Elliott, Time, 13 Apr. 2022 So, on a good night, do tips, which can boost a musician’s meager wages. Washington Post, 9 Mar. 2022 Without many options, too many workers are still earning barely enough to survive and falling farther and farther behind with each passing week, as inflation eats into the purchasing power of their already meager wages. Morris Pearl, Fortune, 25 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of meager

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for meager

Middle English megre "thin, having little flesh from lack of food," borrowed from Anglo-French megre, maigre, going back to Latin macr-, macer "thin, lean, of little substance," going back to Indo-European *mh2ḱ-ro- "long, thin," whence also Germanic *magra- "lean" (whence Old English mæger "lean," Old High German magar, Old Norse magr), Greek makrós "long, tall, high, large"; derivative in *-ro-, adjective suffix, of a base *meh2ḱ-, *mh2ḱ- seen also in Latin maciēs "bodily thinness, wasting," Greek mêkos "length," mḗkistos "longest, highest," Avestan masah- "length, greatness," masišta- "highest," Hittite maklant- "thin, slim (of animals)"

Note: Alternatively from Indo-European *maḱ- if a is accepted as a vowel, as the laryngeal h2 is invoked solely to produce the right vocalism.

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

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Last Updated

13 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Meager.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/meager. Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for meager

meager

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

Kids Definition of meager

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

More from Merriam-Webster on meager

Nglish: Translation of meager for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of meager for Arabic Speakers

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