\ 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 negative don'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

excess, extra, redundant, supererogatory, superfluous, supernumerary, surplus

Synonyms: Verb

nurse, scant, skimp (on), stint (on)

Synonyms: Noun

extra, reserve

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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


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.


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.


“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

Give in to the desire to be a social butterfly in September when group outings can brighten your spare time. Tribune Content Agency,, "Horoscope for July 3, 2019: Happy birthday Tom Cruise; Libra, business and pleasure don’t always mix," 3 July 2019 In his spare time, Steve sits on the board of directors of a nonprofit organization and often donates his photography services. Steve Smith,, "Ellington Grads Urged To Enjoy Life," 20 June 2019 The Warriors point guard, who is an avid golfer in his spare time, is serving as executive producer of the new 10-episode mini-golf competition series Holey Moley. Lauren Huff,, "Stephen Curry teases he'll 'pop up everywhere' in mini-golf competition show Holey Moley," 19 June 2019 Some teach themselves through language apps in their spare time. Abigail Feldman,, "Lynn teens explore new world, and share stories of their past," 12 June 2019 Donewar and Steeves previously worked in the energy industry, and worked at home brewing in their spare time. Maggie Gordon, Houston Chronicle, "Another new brewery on tap to open in Near Northside," 10 June 2019 Whitman started work as an office boy for a Brooklyn law firm, reading the novels of Sir Walter Scott in his spare time, and exploring every corner of New York. Elaine Showalter, The New York Review of Books, "Whitman, Melville, & Julia Ward Howe: A Tale of Three Bicentennials," 27 May 2019 And spare parts are hard to come by since some are no longer made. Scott Wartman,, "Cincinnati Reds want a new scoreboard. Hamilton County commissioners will vote on whether to help buy one.," 19 June 2019 The contract also includes work for spare parts and training support. Stephen Singer,, "Sikorsky wins $542 million to build 6 presidential helicopters," 11 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The long-eared taxis have patience to spare, even with fidgety youngsters. Roger Naylor, azcentral, "Kid-friendly Grand Canyon: Here are the 6 best activities for families at the South Rim," 26 June 2019 Foreign powers will intermeddle in our affairs, and spare no [expense] to influence them. Martin Finucane,, "How far back does concern about foreign influence in the US go? All the way back," 14 June 2019 It will be viewed more suspiciously, which keeps the public from understanding how tirelessly owners, trainers and others work and spare no expense to try to prevent horse fatalities from occurring. Gentry Estes, The Courier-Journal, "As horses keep dying on the track, the industry is left to answer impossible questions," 13 June 2019 The Accountant - Shutters on the Beach While the Oscars might be a nail-biter for the nominees, spare a thought for the accountants. Max Maeckler, Vogue, "Going to the Oscars? The Best L.A. Hotels for Every Hollywood Type," 22 Feb. 2019 Milkweed has been in rapid retreat, crowded by urban development, attacked along roadways, and driven from pastoral landscapes by herbicides that spare resistant corn and soybeans. Calvin Woodward, Fox News, "A makeover for milkweed, for the sake of butterflies," 31 July 2018 Happily, the film clears that low bar with some room to spare. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Netflix’s Murder Mystery is a surprisingly fun romp starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston," 14 June 2019 His lawyer’s admission that Christensen is the killer is a strategy to spare him the death penalty, Fox News reports. Kc Baker,, "Scholar Was Decapitated by Ex-Student After He Lured Her Into Car Claiming He Was Cop," 13 June 2019 One wipe takes off all my makeup—eyes, brows, face, and lips—with room to spare. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, "The $5 Gentle Face Wipes I Use to Take Off Pretty Much Everything," 13 May 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But the ability to fan out those slideover apps or swipe through them turns a sort-of-nice feature into what amounts to having a spare iPhone sitting on the right hand side of your screen. Dieter Bohn, The Verge, "iPadOS impressions: flexible and powerful, but is it intuitive?," 6 June 2019 It will be replaced by two old-style batteries until a spare arrives. Marcia Dunn, The Seattle Times, "Spacewalking astronauts install better station batteries," 3 Apr. 2019 Kelty Bestie Blanket Bring two warm, washable, packable puffy blankets: one for cuddling when the temperature drops, and a spare in case of airsickness. Wirecutter Staff, New York Times, "Flying With Children? We Have the Gear You Need," 15 June 2019 That’s enough for three full air regiments of 24 fighters each, plus four spares. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "What’s Going on With Russia’s New Stealth Fighter?," 18 May 2019 In London this week, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex—and most of the planet’s photographers—welcomed little Prince Archie into the world, the spare dutifully producing his (half-American) heir. Gerard Baker, WSJ, "A Modest Proposal: Let’s Make Trump a King," 10 May 2019 But beyond the gorgeous bottles, high-end brands are also taking a spare-no-expense approach to formulating what goes into them to deliver results that are truly worth posting about. Glamour, "Beauty Awards: The 17 Best Skin Care Products of 2019," 25 Mar. 2019 Once there, airlines are left without their usual ground crews, staff or spare planes. Alison Sider, WSJ, "United Airlines to Review ‘Worst Travel Nightmare’," 21 Jan. 2019 The installation, spread over several galleries, is spare and likewise lends coherence to what could have been a kind of painterly cacophony. Peter Plagens, WSJ, "‘Charline von Heyl: Snake Eyes’ Review: A Pro in Need of Poetry," 18 Dec. 2018

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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Statistics for spare

Last Updated

7 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for spare

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

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More Definitions for spare



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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More from Merriam-Webster on spare

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for spare

Spanish Central: Translation of spare

Nglish: Translation of spare for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spare for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about spare

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