\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from spare


sparely adverb
spareness noun


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

Synonyms for spare

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective For lodges with sufficient solar capacity and capital to spare, electric vehicles offer significant economic advantages. Richard Holmes, Fortune, 14 Sep. 2021 Seven weeks later, on November 27th, B.V.T. officers accompanied Austrian police to Halabi’s apartment and unlocked it with a spare key. Ben Taub, The New Yorker, 13 Sep. 2021 In a matter of a few hours, the town was overwhelmed by 38 planeloads of travelers from dozens of countries and religions, yet locals went to work in their kitchens and cleaned up spare rooms to offer space and food to the newcomers. Mark Kennedy, Detroit Free Press, 10 Sep. 2021 Guest rooms are equally impressive, where Aman's signature minimalist aesthetic is used for maximum effect: a spare palette of wood, stone, and glass creates a backdrop for breathtaking views of the Tokyo skyline. John Wogan, Travel + Leisure, 8 Sep. 2021 In a spare studio, a plastic bag with a toothbrush and toothpaste sat near a microphone, a twin-size air mattress with rumpled sheets on the floor below. Washington Post, 8 Sep. 2021 The next few model years will bring even more focused TrailSport vehicles, with some models adding beefier tires, full-size spare tires, and underbody protection. Caleb Miller, Car and Driver, 7 Sep. 2021 There was one house with a few amber slivers of fish flesh hanging on a rack, visible from the road at the back corner of a lot jumbled with spare lumber, pallets and a makeshift boardwalk of plywood plopped over mud puddles. Zachariah Hughes, Anchorage Daily News, 4 Sep. 2021 Fortunately, library exhibits and events coordinator Scott Paulson happened to have a spare toy piano at his desk. San Diego Union-Tribune, 4 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb While the movie shows glimpses of the violent sectarian upheaval of that time, there’s plenty of joy to spare as young Hill comes of age. Matt Donnelly, Variety, 13 Sep. 2021 Brandon Hughes, the former Lee County district attorney who pleaded guilty to two ethics charges in June and who agreed to a deal with prosecutors that included three years in state prison, is now asking a judge to spare him from confinement. Howard Koplowitz |, al, 13 Sep. 2021 Among them was another of Italy’s greatest poets, Guido Cavalcanti, although Dante wouldn’t spare his father from damnation for heresy. Judith Thurman, The New Yorker, 13 Sep. 2021 Since then, reality television star Kim Kardashian West and athletes with Oklahoma ties, including NBA stars Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin and Trae Young, have urged Stitt to commute Jones’ death sentence and spare his life., 13 Sep. 2021 All that clearly isn’t giving enough incentive for fans to come to the park in quantities that spare the team, and by proxy the whole city, the blushes that came this week. Jon Meoli,, 13 Sep. 2021 National Securities has just 12 lines in operation and can spare only one, which works only sporadically. Randall Lane, Forbes, 10 Sep. 2021 That fall, one of his coworkers, Angela Osborne — the acclaimed winemaker now behind A Tribute to Grace and Land of Saints — connected Wallace with a vineyard in Santa Barbara that had some Mourvedre grapes to spare. Esther Mobley, San Francisco Chronicle, 8 Sep. 2021 Be sure to test out the nozzle ahead of time to spare your bum. Hannah Sherk,, 7 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun That his business was founded on $30,000 cash discovered in the spare-tire well of his father’s truck is not a moral complication that troubles him much. Washington Post, 14 Sep. 2021 With a sleek open kitchen and a tapas-style menu (there are no entrées, only small and slightly less small plates), Little Mad cultivates a spare, cosmopolitan cool. The New Yorker, 27 Aug. 2021 Coopting their compositions and remaking them in his own spare and gutsy style was both a rejection and an embrace — of the idea that Black artists had no place in the canon, and of the canon itself., 25 Aug. 2021 Expansions include roof rails that will hold a roof tent (and occupants), washable seatbacks, front-view camera and full-size spare. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 14 Aug. 2021 Because the likelihood of needing a spare is low, buying a full-size tire and rim is not worth it. Motormouth Bob Weber, Star Tribune, 9 Apr. 2021 Not a usual one and a spare, then, but two people’s—his and yours. Robert Mcgill, The Atlantic, 23 July 2021 Repairs in a California shipyard involved cutting out a big chunk of the side of the vessel so the old motor could be removed, and then installing a spare that had been stored in Baltimore. Author: Hal Bernton, Anchorage Daily News, 23 July 2021 Which is a good thing, because the spare is an off-roader’s best friend. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 10 July 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About spare

Time Traveler for spare

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for spare

Last Updated

17 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Spare.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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 especially : spare tire sense 1
: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on spare

Nglish: Translation of spare for Spanish Speakers

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Dog Words Quiz

  • shiba puppy more or less demanding cuddles
  • Which of the following animals has a dog in its etymology?
True or False

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

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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