\ ˈsper How to pronounce spare (audio) \
sparer; sparest

Definition of spare

 (Entry 1 of 3)

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


spared; sparing

Definition of spare (Entry 2 of 3)

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 negativedon't spare the syrup
6a : 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



Definition of spare (Entry 3 of 3)

1a : 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

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Other Words from spare


sparely adverb
spareness noun


spareable \ ˈsper-​ə-​bəl How to pronounce spareable (audio) \ adjective
sparer noun

Synonyms for spare

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective In his spare time, Ed enjoyed playing darts for over 64 years, golfing, traveling abroad with his wife, bird watching, spending time with his family, especially his grandchildren., "Edward G. Churilla," 1 Dec. 2019 In his spare time, Bert taught courses for The National Association of Realtors and the Florida Realtors., "Deaths in Central Florida: 11/24," 24 Nov. 2019 Consumers have no more spare leisure time for new TV apps. The Economist, "The future of entertainment," 14 Nov. 2019 Young robotics whiz Hiro Hamada participates in underground robot fights in his spare time. Alex Kane, USA TODAY, "How to watch Big Hero 6," 12 Nov. 2019 Apply your spare time to studying a subject that is germane to your career. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive, "Horoscope for Nov. 10, 2019: Happy birthday Kiernan Shipka; Capricorn, organization helps realize goals," 10 Nov. 2019 Some parents structure their teens’ downtime to help them unplug, but that requires spare time and resources that many parents just don’t have. Annabelle Timsit, Quartz, "Even experts can’t agree on whether technology is dangerous for kids," 5 Nov. 2019 Jamie portrays various villagers — the village corporation president, a young man devoting his spare time to the dig, an elder who carves ivory pendants and earrings inspired by artifacts, a woman who invites her for birthday cake and akutaq. Nancy Lord, Anchorage Daily News, "From Quinhagak to Scotland, archaeology reveals meaning in new book of essays," 2 Nov. 2019 Much of his crime-fighting work has been unpaid and done in his spare time. Logan Jaffe, ProPublica, "An Illinois Superhero You’ve Never Heard Of," 1 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb That scenario might spare those who plan to travel the Wednesday before Thanksgiving from severe weather conditions, AccuWeather said. Andrew Clark, Indianapolis Star, "Thanksgiving travel: Early forecasts say snow could hamper holiday commutes," 22 Nov. 2019 The car was still locked and running with the dog inside, so police tried to use the owner’s spare key fob to unlock the car door but the battery was dead. Wayne K. Roustan,, "Driving dog hits reverse in car and circles backward for an hour," 22 Nov. 2019 There are also hundreds of thousands of rickshaw-owners (who rent out the vehicles to drivers), makers, mechanics and spare-parts traders who rely on the business for their livelihood. The Economist, "Bangladesh’s biggest city plans to ban cycle rickshaws," 7 Nov. 2019 During her lifetime, Geneviève predicted that Attila and his Mongol hordes would spare Paris from massacre and destruction; after she was proved right, she was heralded as the savior of Paris. Elaine Sciolino, New York Times, "Knowing Paris by Its Bridges," 4 Nov. 2019 You might be tempted to be the Halloween hero and give out full-size candy bars but spare a thought for your neighbors giving out the traditional mini versions. Melissa Gray, CNN, "Your guide to Halloween trick-or-treating etiquette," 31 Oct. 2019 But the climate crisis won’t spare the wealthy, either, says Redlener. Michael J. Coren, Quartz, "California’s massive power outages show climate change is coming for everyone, even the rich," 12 Oct. 2019 The presence of these statues has been devastating New York women like me for far too long, and the city should spare no time, expense, or resource in assuring that they are disposed of immediately. Katherine Timpf, National Review, "NYC Commissioner Wants to Remove Statues of Men. It’s about Time.," 20 Sep. 2019 Computer forecasts project that the storm could spare the Caribbean with the development of Cat. Joe Mario Pedersen,, "Tropical Storm Jerry forms and forecast to be Hurricane by Friday," 18 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Real don't have a magical money tree at this point, more a semi-bare spare change shrub., "Summer Disasterclass Opens Fissures Which Will See Zinedine Zidane Leave Real Madrid This Season," 30 July 2019 The gearbox that was removed will be rebuilt and kept as a spare. Cicero Estrella, The Mercury News, "San Francisco’s cable cars are back in business after 10-day shutdown for repairs," 23 Sep. 2019 Hours later, the defaced portrait was taken down and replaced with a spare. New York Times, "Wang Guodong, Who Painted Mao Year After Year, Dies at 88," 28 Aug. 2019 But the Teluride actually climbed a trail like that—and made it out on a space-saver spare. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "The Kia Telluride Has Some Serious Off-Road Chops," 7 May 2019 But rave reviews and the marquee power of Gyllenhaal and, to a lesser extent, Sturridge, showed that this kind of spare, elemental storytelling could work. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Sea Wall/A Life' Becomes First Broadway Show of the 2019-20 Season in the Black," 1 Oct. 2019 In the second game, Lillian had two spares on the way to a score that couldn’t have been more perfect. Steve Lopezcolumnist, Los Angeles Times, "Column: She drives a convertible and bowls her age: 100, to be exact," 18 Sep. 2019 The design is based on Wright’s spare, functional Usonian principles. oregonlive, "Pink Martini’s Thomas Lauderdale leads a $5 singalong fundraiser at Oregon’s only Frank Lloyd Wright house," 12 Sep. 2019 After starting the match with three spares, O’Keefe followed with four strikes in a row to seize control. Stephen Ruiz,, "Reigning Player of Year captures PWBA Orlando Open at Boardwalk Bowl," 17 Aug. 2019

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


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


1907, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for spare


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


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

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Time Traveler for spare

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for spare

Last Updated

8 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Spare.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 13 December 2019.

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More Definitions for spare


How to pronounce spare (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of spare

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: kept as something extra that can be used if it is needed
: available to be used in whatever way you want
: not needed by you and available to be shared or given to someone else



English Language Learners Definition of spare (Entry 2 of 3)

: to choose not to punish or harm (someone)
: to not destroy or harm (something)
: to prevent (someone or something) from experiencing or being affected by something unpleasant, harmful, etc.



English Language Learners Definition of spare (Entry 3 of 3)

: something extra that is kept to be used if it is needed
bowling : the achievement of knocking down all 10 pins with the first two balls


\ ˈsper How to pronounce spare (audio) \
spared; sparing

Kids Definition of spare

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : to keep from being punished or harmed : show mercy to The king promised to spare the prisoner.
2 : to free from having to go through something difficult This afternoon … he was spared any disagreeable scenes.— Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
3 : to keep from using or spending More pancakes, please, and don't spare the syrup.
4 : to give up especially as not really needed Can you spare a few minutes?
5 : to have left over I got there with time to spare.


sparer; sparest

Kids Definition of spare (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : held in reserve (as for an emergency) a spare tire
2 : being over what is needed spare time
3 : somewhat thin a spare figure
4 : scanty a spare diet



Kids Definition of spare (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : a replacement or duplicate piece or part
2 : the knocking down of all ten bowling pins with the first two balls

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Comments on spare

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


easily led, controlled, or managed

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