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 And notably, the seven-day average is 1,000 cases higher than New York City's at the peak of its outbreak in April, although antibody studies and death rates indicate that many cases there went unconfirmed because of a scarcity of tests. Sophie Carson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin reports record 7,497 new coronavirus cases and 58 deaths as the seven-day case average passes 6,000," 12 Nov. 2020 She was born in 1884 into material wealth and emotional scarcity. CBS News, "Eleanor Roosevelt, first lady and humanitarian," 1 Nov. 2020 On the other hand, Morton did not mention drug dealing, instead pointing to a scarcity of early intervention programs and treatment for those struggling with mental health issues and addiction. Ben Leonard,, "In race for Carroll County Circuit Court judge, Morton and Titus differ on criminal justice reform, addiction," 16 Oct. 2020 This scarcity of food tends to make organisms evolve small, efficient forms, making many low-living sharks relatively sluggish and slight. Riley Black, Popular Science, "Could an ancient megashark still lurk in the deep seas?," 15 Oct. 2020 Yet the decline mostly reflected 700,000 people exiting the labor force because of a scarcity of new jobs. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, "The Capital Letter: Week of September 28," 2 Oct. 2020 There are many reasons for these dismal numbers: poverty, sub-par preparation in largely minority-serving schools of all levels and scarcity of role models and mentors. Marc Zimmer, The Conversation, "Nobel Prizes have a diversity problem even worse than the scientific fields they honor," 29 Sep. 2020 The growth of the region was tied to a scarcity of housing, and the top of Tamalpais looks out on one of the most expensive home markets in the country. Carl Nolte,, "High atop Mount Tamalpais — seeing all there is to see," 26 Sep. 2020 Granted, researchers in many nations face a scarcity of faculty jobs. Jocelyn Kaiser, Science | AAAS, "Costa Rica is producing a new corps of skilled tropical biologists. But many can’t find jobs at home," 24 Sep. 2020

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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Time Traveler for scarcity

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for scarcity

Last Updated

15 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Scarcity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for scarcity


How to pronounce scarcity (audio)

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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