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

Essential Meaning of scarce

: very small in amount or number : not plentiful Food was getting scarce during the drought. scarce resources

Full 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



Definition of scarce (Entry 2 of 2)

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

Other Words from scarce


scarceness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for scarce


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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The standards can help prioritize scarce resources -- staff or equipment -- plus provide liability protection. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, 7 Jan. 2022 In a worst-case scenario, a new wave could leave hospitals making life or death decisions on how to allocate scarce resources among competing patients. oregonlive, 7 Jan. 2022 As resellers snap up the scarce supply of new consoles and other must-have items, politicians, shoppers, and retailers are fighting back. Chris Stokel-walker, Wired, 20 Dec. 2021 For one, consumers are flush with savings from government stimulus programs and depressed services spending from restrictions on businesses, leading them to open the spigot for goods that are in scarce supply. Gabriel T. Rubin, WSJ, 10 Dec. 2021 The vaccine rollout in Germany initially lagged due to scarce supply and a lack of health care workers, per Reuters. Mckenzie Sadeghi, USA TODAY, 9 Dec. 2021 Data is scarce in the world’s poorest countries, where births may have risen. Washington Post, 3 Jan. 2022 Do-it-yourself home test kits, which are far less reliable, were scarce. Elaine Ayala, San Antonio Express-News, 3 Jan. 2022 In the spring when shots were scarce, one tweet from our reporter covering the vaccine rollout helped dozens to get immunized at Ford Field that very day. Anjanette Delgado,, 2 Jan. 2022

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.

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First Known Use of scarce


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for scarce


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

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Time Traveler for scarce

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

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Last Updated

17 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Scarce.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for scarce


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

Kids Definition of scarce

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: not plentiful Food was scarce during the war.



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

More from Merriam-Webster on scarce

Nglish: Translation of scarce for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of scarce for Arabic Speakers


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