spare

1 of 3

adjective

sparer; sparest
1
: not being used
especially : held for emergency use
a spare tire
2
: being over and above what is needed : superfluous
spare time
3
: not liberal or profuse : sparing
a spare prose style
4
: healthily lean
5
: not abundant or plentiful
sparely adverb
spareness noun

spare

2 of 3

verb

spared; sparing

transitive verb

1
: to forbear to destroy, punish, or harm
2
: to refrain from attacking or reprimanding with necessary or salutary severity
3
: to relieve of the necessity of doing or undergoing something
spare yourself the trouble
4
: to refrain from : avoid
spared no expense
5
: to use or dispense frugally
used chiefly in the negative
don't spare the syrup
6
a
: to give up as not strictly needed
do you have any cash to spare
b
: to have left over or as margin
time to spare

intransitive verb

1
: to be frugal
2
: to refrain from doing harm
spareable adjective
sparer noun

spare

3 of 3

noun

1
a
: a spare tire
b
: a duplicate (such as a key or a machine part) kept in reserve
2
: the knocking down of all 10 pins with the first 2 balls in a frame in bowling
Choose the Right Synonym for spare

lean, spare, lank, lanky, gaunt, rawboned, scrawny, skinny mean thin because of an absence of excess flesh.

lean stresses lack of fat and of curving contours.

a lean racehorse

spare suggests leanness from abstemious living or constant exercise.

the gymnast's spare figure

lank implies tallness as well as leanness.

the lank legs of the heron

lanky suggests awkwardness and loose-jointedness as well as thinness.

a lanky youth, all arms and legs

gaunt implies marked thinness or emaciation as from overwork or suffering.

a prisoner's gaunt face

rawboned suggests a large ungainly build without implying undernourishment.

a rawboned farmer

scrawny and skinny imply an extreme leanness that suggests deficient strength and vitality.

a scrawny chicken
skinny street urchins

meager, scanty, scant, skimpy, spare, sparse mean falling short of what is normal, necessary, or desirable.

meager implies the absence of elements, qualities, or numbers necessary to a thing's richness, substance, or potency.

a meager portion of meat

scanty stresses insufficiency in amount, quantity, or extent.

supplies too scanty to last the winter

scant suggests a falling short of what is desired or desirable rather than of what is essential.

in January the daylight hours are scant

skimpy usually suggests niggardliness or penury as the cause of the deficiency.

tacky housing developments on skimpy lots

spare may suggest a slight falling short of adequacy or merely an absence of superfluity.

a spare, concise style of writing

sparse implies a thin scattering of units.

a sparse population

Examples of spare in a Sentence

Adjective a spare pair of gloves I keep a spare set of keys in my desk. He has a spare frame. He was tall and spare. I like her spare style of writing. Verb No one knows why the gunman shot some people and spared others. Somehow the storm spared our house while nearby buildings were destroyed. She was spared from having to answer any more questions. He wanted to spare his family from the stress he had endured. I could have spared myself the trouble. He spared them the embarrassment of a public apology. If you could spare a cup of sugar, it would save me a trip to the store. Noun “I've lost the key.” “You'll find a spare in the drawer.” If that one breaks, I've got a spare. Most cars come with spares. He got a strike and two spares.
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Lyons is glad to have the box in front of the library to scoop up any spare glasses from all the people anticipated to gather at the library on the big day. USA TODAY, 5 Apr. 2024 Back then, thousands of cardboard cutouts were brought in to fill the spare seats in stadiums during March Madness, including an oversized image of Clark’s dog, Bella. George Ramsay, CNN, 3 Apr. 2024 Korea plays a leading role in producing semiconductors and providing spare parts for chip-making equipment. Mackenzie Hawkins, Fortune Asia, 2 Apr. 2024 The catastrophic bridge collapse that closed the Port of Baltimore to ship traffic is unlikely to trigger a major new U.S. supply chain crisis or spike goods prices, due to ample and growing spare capacity at competing East Coast ports, economists and logistics experts say. David Lawder, The Christian Science Monitor, 28 Mar. 2024 Just as impressive was Levit’s ability to sustain tension across spare textures, as at the desolate end of the Funeral March. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 25 Mar. 2024 Meanwhile, for some years now the show’s organizers have been putting their spare space to good use. Alex Kwanten, Forbes, 28 Mar. 2024 As the IndyCar teams were unable to take any spare parts to Japan, 11 of the 33 cars had mechanical problems in practice and could not start the race. Emiko Jozuka For Cnn, CNN, 28 Mar. 2024 Once a week in a midtown Manhattan hotel, dozens of Girl Scouts gather in a spare room made homey by string lights and children’s drawings. Sara Herschander, The Christian Science Monitor, 26 Mar. 2024
Verb
The Lakers were in great position Saturday after beating Cleveland, moving into eighth and owning momentum to spare. Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times, 10 Apr. 2024 What happens to spare embryos created during IVF is a question that was thrust into the national spotlight in February, after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos were people and characterized discarding them as killing unborn children. Justine McDaniel, Washington Post, 9 Apr. 2024 This roomy bag that can fit four days’ worth of clothing with room to spare while still slipping under the airplane seat in front of you is from the brand’s classic Maxlite 5 collection. Olivia Young, Travel + Leisure, 8 Apr. 2024 The solar eclipse has come and gone in Arizona, with glasses and solar viewers to spare. The Arizona Republic, 8 Apr. 2024 Though his crowd scenes have power and insight to spare, Parks may have been at his best in carefully balanced portraits of Black leaders staring down his camera: Ethel Sharrieff with the women’s corps of the Black Muslim movement, Cleaver and his wife almost melting the lens with their gazes. The New Yorker, 5 Apr. 2024 Because my cancer was detected quickly, I was spared the most difficult forms of treatment. Lauren Gray, SELF, 1 Apr. 2024 That’s sent chocolate prices soaring as producers have passed the higher raw material costs on to consumers—and Tony’s hasn’t been spared. Prarthana Prakash, Fortune Europe, 30 Mar. 2024 Concourse transit: Skytrain is an elevated train that spares MIA passengers long treks through Concourse D. Miami Herald Archives, Miami Herald, 29 Mar. 2024
Noun
Betts warmed up with a few spares before a smooth release provided the perfect spin required for a strike. Morgan Chesky, NBC News, 24 Feb. 2024 Even if just a few dozen are recoverable—and the rest useful only as sources of spares—the 7th Brigade should have enough airframes to stay in the fight for years. David Axe, Forbes, 22 Feb. 2024 And that repeated itself again with Margaret and Elizabeth in a sense of the heir and the spare. Brande Victorian, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 Dec. 2023 There were occasional spares whereby one pin toppled another without making contact, simply by crossing strings. David Wharton, Los Angeles Times, 21 Nov. 2023 Finally, pack up and head to the nearest mechanic to change your spare for a longer-term tire. Lauren Farrell, Chicago Tribune, 1 Aug. 2023 Helena raises her arms in celebration upon scoring one of those noncontact spares. David Wharton, Los Angeles Times, 21 Nov. 2023 In the Republican campaign, the seven candidates in Wednesday’s debate were all running to be the spare. David Lauter, Los Angeles Times, 29 Sep. 2023 In Red, White & Royal Blue, an unexpected fling goes from playful secret to intimate love story for Alex Claremont-Diaz (Taylor Zakhar Perez), the first son of the United States, and Prince Henry (Nicholas Galitzine), Britain’s spare. Abbey White, The Hollywood Reporter, 14 Aug. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'spare.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Middle English, from Old English spær sparing, scant; akin to Old High German spar spare

Verb

Middle English, from Old English sparian; akin to Old High German sparōn to spare, Old English spær, adjective, scant

First Known Use

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun

1907, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of spare was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near spare

Cite this Entry

“Spare.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spare. Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

spare

1 of 3 verb
ˈspa(ə)r How to pronounce spare (audio)
ˈspe(ə)r
spared; sparing
1
: to keep from being punished or harmed : show mercy
spared the prisoners
2
: to free of the need to do something
spare yourself the trouble
3
: to hold off from doing or spending
spare no cost
4
: to use or give out in small amounts
more pancakes, please, and don't spare the syrup
5
a
: to give up as not really needed
can you spare me a few minutes
couldn't spare a dime
b
: to have left over
got there with time to spare

spare

2 of 3 adjective
sparer; sparest
1
: held in reserve
a spare tire
2
: being over what is needed
spare time
3
: not generous or wasteful : sparing
4
: somewhat thin
5
: not abundant or plentiful : scanty
sparely adverb
spareness noun

spare

3 of 3 noun
1
: a spare or duplicate piece or part
2
: the knocking down of all 10 bowling pins with the first two balls in a frame in bowling
Etymology

Verb

Old English sparian "to refrain from harming"

Adjective

Middle English spare "being extra or more than is needed"

More from Merriam-Webster on spare

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