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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Before that, pearls were fabulously expensive because of their scarcity. Nancy Macdonell, WSJ, "How Classic Pearls Became Improbably Hip," 11 Dec. 2018 College football trades on its own scarcity, touting the significance of every game over the three-month regular season through the lens of that year’s four-team playoff field. The Si Staff,, "The Best Meaningless Games of the 2017 College Football Season," 25 May 2018 Because of their scarcity, hellbenders have legal protection in North Carolina. Bruce Henderson, charlotteobserver, "If you see one of these slimy creatures, NC officials want to hear about it | Charlotte Observer," 30 Mar. 2018 Survive is defined my scarcity: of resources, of ideas, of narrative. Joshua Rivera, GQ, "R.I.P. Metal Gear Solid, the Best Video Game Series Ever," 7 Mar. 2018 This question wouldn’t be easy to answer, given the scarcity of data from regions of conflict. Maya Wei-haas, Smithsonian, "The Animal Cost of War," 11 Jan. 2018 The scarcity of double-switches, with relievers already having 21 at-bats. Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY, "Sleepless at Citi Field: Why Mickey Callaway is the latest to toss and turn managing the Mets," 18 June 2018 Prices play the key coordinating role in any market economy, signaling the relative scarcity of resources and telling entrepreneurs how to organize production in a way that creates the largest economic pie possible. Benjamin Powell, Fortune, "Commentary: Trump’s Tariffs Won’t Kill U.S. Jobs. They’ll Create the Wrong Ones.," 7 Mar. 2018 Kersch says that is due to things like the scarcity of images depicting women at work in the industry and stereotypes of male construction workers as unwelcoming to women. Amanda Abrams, Curbed, "Women are the solution to the construction industry’s labor shortage," 5 Nov. 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.

See More

First Known Use of scarcity

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about scarcity

Statistics for scarcity

Last Updated

6 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for scarcity

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


something valued as if it were money

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!