scar·​ci·​ty | \ ˈsker-sə-tē How to pronounce scarcity (audio) , -stē\
plural scarcities

Definition of scarcity

: the quality or state of being scarce especially : want of provisions for the support of life

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Examples of scarcity in a Sentence

Scarcity of food forced the herds to move. the scarcity of good restaurants around here is surprising

Recent Examples on the Web

More than 4 million people have fled and thousands have lost weight amid hyperinflation and food scarcity. Washington Post, "Maduro government decides to pull out of talks with Venezuela opposition," 9 Aug. 2019 There's not a scarcity of resources to have strong public schools for everybody. John Hammontree |, al, "Rev. William Barber on building a moral coalition in the South, comparisons to MLK," 5 Aug. 2019 The main problem with Super Cruise, so far, has been scarcity. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, "What is ‘Ultra Cruise’? GM teases mysterious autonomous technology to investors," 1 Aug. 2019 Dressed in neon blue-and-green shirts, a dozen walkers used the 3-mile loop to carry signs and share statistics about food scarcity issues faced by some people in the Indianapolis area. Casey Smith, Indianapolis Star, "'Food access is an issue': Canal walk kicks off Hunger Awareness Week," 20 July 2019 Researchers say that the fox left Norway because of food scarcity and to search for better breeding grounds. Daisy Hernandez, Popular Mechanics, "This Young Arctic Fox Walked 2,700 Miles From Norway to Canada," 8 July 2019 Food scarcity in areas where the Mekong River is less generous means that villagers need to seek out their protein resources beyond available river fish. Jill K. Robinson, National Geographic, "Gordon Ramsay Travels the Mighty Mekong of Laos," 7 July 2019 Not by overloading on glucose or ketones [the energy source produced when the liver burns fat], but by altering the cadence of eating and letting the body do what it was designed to do during times of food scarcity. Rahul Jandial, Md,, "The Popular Diet One Neurosurgeon Swears By as a Way to Boost His Brainpower," 5 June 2019 Many voters in Guatemala are looking for solutions to the lack of jobs, high rates of violence and food scarcity that drove so many of their fellow citizens to leave the country in 2018. Ciara Nugent, Time, "Guatemala Sends More Migrants to the U.S. Border Than Any Other Country. Will Sunday's Elections Change That?," 11 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'scarcity.' 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 scarcity

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for scarcity

Last Updated

9 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for scarcity

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

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More Definitions for scarcity



English Language Learners Definition of scarcity

: a very small supply : the state of being scarce


scar·​ci·​ty | \ ˈsker-sə-tē How to pronounce scarcity (audio) \
plural scarcities

Kids Definition of scarcity

: a very small supply : the condition of being scarce a scarcity of water

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Comments on scarcity

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


to make a temporary encampment

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