scarce

adjective
\ ˈskers How to pronounce scarce (audio) \
scarcer; scarcest

Definition of scarce

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : deficient in quantity or number compared with the demand : not plentiful or abundant
2 : intentionally absent made himself scarce at inspection time

scarce

adverb

Definition of scarce (Entry 2 of 2)

: scarcely, hardly scarce was independence half a century old, when a … split occurred— John McPhee

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from scarce

Adjective

scarceness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for scarce

Adjective

infrequent, uncommon, scarce, rare, sporadic mean not common or abundant. infrequent implies occurrence at wide intervals in space or time. infrequent family visits uncommon suggests a frequency below normal expectation. smallpox is now uncommon in many countries scarce implies falling short of a standard or required abundance. jobs were scarce during the Depression rare suggests extreme scarcity or infrequency and often implies consequent high value. rare first editions sporadic implies occurrence in scattered instances or isolated outbursts. sporadic cases of influenza

Examples of scarce in a Sentence

Adjective

Food was getting scarce during the drought. food was a bit scarce last winter

Adverb

I could scarce believe what I was hearing.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Diggs was scarce at the TCO Performance Center during the first month of drills and missed about half of the 10 voluntary organized team activity sessions, which concluded Thursday. Chris Tomasson, Twin Cities, "Vikings GM Rick Spielman trying to push QB Kirk Cousins to ‘next level’," 6 June 2019 Some machines have aged to the point that replacement parts are scarcer, said Wendy Underhill, director of elections and redistricting for the National Conference of State Legislatures. Grant Schulte, The Seattle Times, "Outdated voting machines spark election worries in Nebraska," 21 Nov. 2018 Again, alongside its better focus, Orléans had more meaningful conflict and interaction—mostly because resources are so much scarcer. Tom Mendelsohn, Ars Technica, "Altiplano review: A brain-tickling board game about… alpacas," 14 July 2018 East Antarctica, which makes up two-thirds of the continent, is a remote region of an already remote location, where data is scarcer because there are fewer measurement stations, Dr. Koppes said. Kendra Pierre-louis, New York Times, "Antarctica Is Melting Three Times as Fast as a Decade Ago," 13 June 2018 Incentives and opportunities to debate those ideas in mainstream politics are scarcer. Julia Azari, Vox, "Do Americans avoid ideology?," 1 June 2018 As the peak season for her industry ramped up, job applicants were scarcer than usual though business was soaring. Shobhana Chandra, chicagotribune.com, "As U.S. jobs go begging, forget those monthly gains of 200,000," 31 May 2018 Crossing the border has become increasingly difficult; rents are rising; jobs are scarcer. latimes.com, "Today: Syria Has a 'Big Price to Pay'," 9 Apr. 2018 Roberts almost never goes shopping in brick-and-mortar gear stores, where larger sizes are far scarcer than online. Heather Hansman, Outside Online, "Hey, Outdoor Industry: We Need Plus-Size Ski Gear," 26 Mar. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of scarce

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adverb

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for scarce

Adjective

Middle English scars, from Anglo-French eschars, escars narrow, stingy, deficient, from Vulgar Latin *excarpsus, literally, plucked out, past participle of Latin excerpere to pluck out — more at excerpt

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about scarce

Statistics for scarce

Last Updated

14 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for scarce

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for scarce

scarce

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of scarce

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: very small in amount or number : not plentiful

scarce

adverb

English Language Learners Definition of scarce (Entry 2 of 2)

literary : almost not at all : scarcely or hardly

scarce

adjective
\ ˈskers How to pronounce scarce (audio) \
scarcer; scarcest

Kids Definition of scarce

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: not plentiful Food was scarce during the war.

scarce

adverb

Kids Definition of scarce (Entry 2 of 2)

: hardly, scarcely … I could scarce conceal a shudder when he laid his hand upon my arm.— Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on scarce

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for scarce

Spanish Central: Translation of scarce

Nglish: Translation of scarce for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of scarce for Arabic Speakers

Comments on scarce

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

WORD OF THE DAY

showing great care, attention, and effort

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!