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

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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 The financial compensation for donating in some countries is fairly meager, but some donors have forged a lifestyle by agreeing to a nominal fee in exchange for travel costs to meet recipients in person. New York Times, "The Case of the Serial Sperm Donor," 1 Feb. 2021 Worried that children were missing meals after COVID-19 closed schools, the 36-year-old cancer survivor used her meager savings to buy her first community refrigerator in August. Star Tribune, "Theft leads to community giving in Miami," 29 Jan. 2021 But every person with meager savings can add up, says Devyani Singh, an energy and climate policy scientist with the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. Ula Chrobak, Popular Science, "Switching your bank might help slow the climate crisis," 29 Dec. 2020 The most rushing yards New Orleans had given up to a quarterback in 2020 to Detroit’s Matthew Stafford, who tallied a meager 21 yards. Luke Johnson,, "Jalen Hurts ran, ran, and ran and the Saints, shockingly, were always a step behind," 13 Dec. 2020 Pittsburgh’s rushing attack had just a meager 21 yards in the loss. Tim Bielik, cleveland, "How to watch every NFL game (12/13/20): Week 14 live streams, TV options, odds," 13 Dec. 2020 Kenan Christon led the team with a meager 11 rushing yards while altogether, the Trojans barely scrounged five total yards, their fewest in a game since September 2018. Ryan Kartje, Los Angeles Times, "USC can’t afford a second-half offensive lull against UCLA," 8 Dec. 2020 Byrd was only 4-of-7 for a meager 82 yards, most coming on his 64-yarder to Gaffney, but picked up a timely 47 yards rushing to keep critical possessions alive. al, "Spanish Fort finishes season sweep of Blount 24-14, eyes rematch with Saraland," 21 Nov. 2020 Opposing quarterbacks average a meager 5.4 yards per attempt against the Baltimore defense. Childs Walker,, "Ravens vs. Patriots scouting report for Week 10: Who has the edge?," 12 Nov. 2020

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 "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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Time Traveler for meager

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

18 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Meager.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.

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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

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