1

scarce

adjective \ ˈskers \
Updated on: 18 Nov 2017

Definition of scarce

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

scarceness

noun

Examples of scarce in a Sentence

  1. Food was getting scarce during the drought.

  2. food was a bit scarce last winter

Recent Examples of scarce from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of 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

Synonym Discussion of 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

2

scarce

adverb

Definition of scarce

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

Examples of scarce in a Sentence

  1. I could scarce believe what I was hearing.

First Known Use of scarce

15th century



SCARCE Defined for English Language Learners

scarce

adjective

Definition of scarce for English Language Learners

  • : very small in amount or number : not plentiful


scarce

adverb

Definition of scarce for English Language Learners

  • : almost not at all : scarcely or hardly


SCARCE Defined for Kids

1

scarce

adjective \ ˈskers \

Definition of scarce for Students

scarcer; scarcest
: not plentiful
  • Food was scarce during the war.

2

scarce

adverb

Definition of scarce for Students

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


Seen and Heard

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