scarce

adjective
\ ˈskers \
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

Many people saw foreign refugees as competition for scarce jobs. Jeff Gammage, Philly.com, "History repeats: When America turned away refugees," 9 June 2018 The Agriculture Department is focusing on opioid misuse in rural areas, where treatment resources are scarce. Carla K. Johnson, The Seattle Times, "Q&A: Feds tackle opioid epidemic, but is it helping?," 28 Jan. 2019 Again, specifics as to what would happen next (and when those very things would happen) were scarce. Meredith Carey, Condé Nast Traveler, "Airbnb’s ‘Superguest’ Program: The Benefits We Want to See," 18 Dec. 2018 Millions have fled, while runaway inflation leaves those remaining behind struggling to afford scarce food and medicine. Scott Smith, The Seattle Times, "Venezuela Supreme Court judge flees to US to protest Maduro," 7 Jan. 2019 But there are also some reasons for skepticism — maybe giving people money in disasters just results in bidding-up of scarce supplies. Kelsey Piper, Vox, "Why disaster relief is so hard," 23 Nov. 2018 There are no workarounds, by design, which means loads of computer power delivered by specialized equipment is necessary to generate the scarce digital currency. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Mining For Bitcoin Can Require More Energy Than Actually Mining," 6 Nov. 2018 In Japan, where foreign executives are scarce and even the biggest corporate bigwigs tend to keep a low profile, Ghosn’s status is more ambiguous. Elaine Ganley, The Seattle Times, "Renault board: Ghosn to remain CEO while detained in Japan," 19 Nov. 2018 Fiberglass is becoming scarce and there are few, if any, working wood vessels. John Schandelmeier, Anchorage Daily News, "At Bristol Bay, there’s a changing of the guard at the boatyard," 7 July 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

22 Feb 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 \
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

very full or close together

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!