\ 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 spare (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 The spare bedroom had long ago become a knee-high wading pool of paper, said Sandelin, who several years back began packing it all, still unorganized, into dozens of boxes. New York Times, "Opera’s Biggest Fan Leaves Behind a Sprawling Time Capsule," 23 Apr. 2021 During the pandemic, Bray has not been absent from TVG, just broadcasting from his spare bedroom in Rossmoor, near Seal Beach in Orange County. John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times, "Horse racing newsletter: Good to have Simon Bray back at the track," 12 Apr. 2021 On the 300th morning of waking up in a friend’s spare bedroom, the Scrabble champion pondered his next move and fixated on one word. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "Travis Kalanick is back at the center of controversy," 2 Apr. 2021 On the 300th morning of waking up in a friend’s spare bedroom, the Scrabble champion pondered his next move and fixated on one word. Washington Post, "He was Nigeria’s biggest Scrabble star. The pandemic spelled identity crisis.," 30 Mar. 2021 Richard says the aging Minuteman missiles are still reliable, but they are being patched together with spare parts that are obsolete. Jamie Mcintyre, Washington Examiner, "‘We will be the ones deterred’: STRATCOM commander on China’s ‘breathtaking’ nuclear buildup," 23 Apr. 2021 The procurement includes a long term service agreement, technical support, spare parts and material supply. Wayne Rash, Forbes, "Amtrak Names Seimens Mobility Preferred Bidder For New Train Equipment," 21 Apr. 2021 Should Cuba’s vaccines succeed, its researchers will have overcome even more hurdles than their peers in Western labs — including shortages of equipment, spare parts and other supplies, due in part to U.S. sanctions. Washington Post, "Against the odds, Cuba could become a coronavirus vaccine powerhouse.," 29 Mar. 2021 Beyond John Wall, the Rockets have random spare parts. Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY, "Miami Heat, Denver Nuggets, Rajon Rondo among the winners at NBA trade deadline," 26 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The parrots had to be moved to different parts of the zoo, of course, to spare children out for a day of animal watching. Dana Hunsinger Benbow, The Indianapolis Star, "Mario Andretti's trying to teach his 34-year-old bird to swear: 'He's not picking it up'," 5 May 2021 Officials were especially concerned that more than 300 people remained hospitalized with COVID-19 in a state with relatively few beds to spare. Richard Read Seattle Bureau Chief, Los Angeles Times, "COVID-19 surges in Oregon, sickening younger adults and forcing a return to restrictions," 30 Apr. 2021 Day after day, Bekele held his son’s hand and begged God to spare his boy. NBC News, "Texas enabled the worst carbon monoxide poisoning catastrophe in recent U.S. history," 29 Apr. 2021 That option could be a compromise between the city and the owners of Austin’s Coffee, whose patrons launched a campaign for Winter Park to spare the 18-year-old shop that’s been a haven for the local arts community. Lisa Maria Garza,, "Winter Park commissioners halt talks on $3 million deal to buy West Fairbanks lot," 28 Apr. 2021 Some states are receiving batches of tips with just a day left to spare, leaving them little choice but to beg other labs for backup, according to Scott Shone, the director of North Carolina’s state public health laboratory. Kate Sheridan, STAT, "How blackouts, fires, and a pandemic are driving shortages of pipette tips — and hobbling science," 28 Apr. 2021 With only a couple of hours to spare, Runyon gave the last dose to a middle-aged stranger in the middle of a kitchen with medical supplies spread over a counter. Chris Serres, Star Tribune, "'You can feel the joy': One nurse's race to vaccinate as many Minnesotans as she can," 23 Apr. 2021 And Scott has charisma to spare -- as people unfamiliar with him will see come Wednesday. Chris Cillizza, CNN, "Why Tim Scott is a low-key 2024 favorite," 23 Apr. 2021 The biggest contingency of artistic amateurs, however, comes from actors who found themselves with extra time and creativity to spare. Olivia Hosken, Town & Country, "Are All Celebrities Painting Now?," 22 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This specific Daytona features a red and white racing livery and was used as a spare by the Action Express Racing team, according to the dealership. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, "The Last Corvette Daytona Race Car Prototype Could Be Yours for $250,000," 29 Apr. 2021 My Ford dealer said that there was no mini spare made for my model. Motormouth Bob Weber, Star Tribune, "Motormouth: Cleaning the connections revives wiring," 9 Apr. 2021 The full-size spare tire mounted to the power swing-out tailgate does give it a similar 4x4 vibe to those off-roaders, though. Connor Hoffman, Car and Driver, "830-HP 2024 GMC Hummer EV SUV Is an Open-Roof Off-Roader," 5 Apr. 2021 When the going is tough, putting the spare on won't mean compromised performance. John Pearley Huffman, Car and Driver, "2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness Is Bold, Brash, and Capable," 30 Mar. 2021 But the 15th is a spare who will be dismissed before trial if not needed. Paul Walsh, Star Tribune, "After more than two weeks, jury could be seated Tuesday in Derek Chauvin trial," 22 Mar. 2021 Fortunately her namesake, Aunt Lavinia, has a spare. Jessica Goldstein, Vulture, "Dickinson Recap: All Too Well," 10 Feb. 2021 Doubtless her mother would have tutored her on the importance of submitting to her husband and producing an heir and a spare. Rosie Knight,, "7 Things Bridgerton Gets Spot On About Regency London," 11 Jan. 2021 The short answer is it’s natural for that to happen, that the heir and the spare would go off on very different courses. Rachel Burchfield, Glamour, "Could Queen Elizabeth II Be the Last Queen of England?," 21 Dec. 2020

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 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Spare.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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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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