scar·​ci·​ty | \ ˈsker-sə-tē, -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

The company also brought back the coveted skull trooper skin and created a community frenzy, showing how lucrative its strategy of artificial scarcity is when applied to limited-time virtual goods. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "The year in Fortnite," 18 Dec. 2018 Since the Arab oil embargo 45 years ago, which sent crude prices up and created painful supply shortages, the problem of scarcity had defined U.S. thinking and strategy around oil, the world’s economic lifeblood. Bradley Olson, WSJ, "U.S. Becomes Net Exporter of Oil, Fuels for First Time in Decades," 6 Dec. 2018 One is sort of this Ritalin retail, these Pop-Up Museums, the Frosé Mansion, the Museum of Pizza, which really play on this trend in retail of scarcity. Eric Johnson, Recode, "When big companies are hacked, should they have to disclose it immediately?," 13 Oct. 2018 That means that our bodies expect to only get fed every so often, and hold onto extra fat as a safeguard against periods of scarcity. Sophie Weiner, Popular Mechanics, "Should You Try Intermittent Fasting to Lose Weight?," 11 Nov. 2017 The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. WSJ, "Capitalism May Not Be the Climate’s Answer," 7 Aug. 2018 Perhaps the real driver for these long lines is scarcity. Jonathan Kauffman, San Francisco Chronicle, "In the chain-averse Bay Area, why are we so crazy for Asian restaurant chains?," 31 May 2018 Declining unemployment points to a scarcity of workers that is forcing employers to pay more. Laura Stevens, WSJ, "Amazon to Raise Its Minimum U.S. Wage to $15 an Hour," 2 Oct. 2018 The lab had about a dozen of those, and the scarcity led to a hierarchy of seniority. Andrada Fiscutean, Ars Technica, "The adventures of lab ED011—“Nobody would be able to duplicate what happened there”," 27 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

30 Dec 2018

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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 \
plural scarcities

Kids Definition of scarcity

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

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involving abstract or general statements

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