\ ˈspärs How to pronounce sparse (audio) \
sparser; sparsest

Definition of sparse

: of few and scattered elements especially : not thickly grown or settled

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Other Words from sparse

sparsely adverb
sparseness noun
sparsity \ ˈspär-​sə-​tē How to pronounce sparse (audio) , -​stē \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for sparse

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 sparse in a Sentence

open land is sparse around here
Recent Examples on the Web For whatever reason, the crowd was sparse on Sunday. al, 19 July 2021 Tourists are sparse, and sunlight in summer is almost never-ending—more than 20 hours a day. Bart Ziegler, WSJ, 16 July 2021 But details about his administration’s plans remain sparse. Washington Post, 14 July 2021 With San Jose down 9-1 in the top of the sixth inning of the game against Modesto, a sparse crowd of 426 erupted when Nuts right fielder Alberto Rodriguez — that night’s beer batter — struck out swinging. Connor Letourneau, San Francisco Chronicle, 21 June 2021 With tournament attendance limited amid the COVID-19 pandemic, UConn’s win over the Panthers transpired in front of a sparse crowd of friends and families of the program, including a particularly raucous group from High Point. Alexa Philippou,, 22 Mar. 2021 The Aggies overcame a double-digit deficit in the second half to prevail 73-66 before a sparse, limited-capacity crowd because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Brent Zwerneman,, 2 Dec. 2020 Most of the brow loss will be recovered, but in up to 25 percent of patients, their eyebrows will remain sparse and thin. Amanda Mitchell, Allure, 14 Oct. 2020 But with Patrick’s position seemingly clear in the Senate, additional support there was sparse. Patrick Svitek, San Antonio Express-News, 3 July 2021

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

1753, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for sparse

Latin sparsus spread out, from past participle of spargere to scatter — more at spark

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Dictionary Entries Near sparse

sparry limestone



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Statistics for sparse

Last Updated

24 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sparse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for sparse



English Language Learners Definition of sparse

: present only in small amounts : less than necessary or normal especially : thinly covering an area : not thick or full


\ ˈspärs How to pronounce sparse (audio) \
sparser; sparsest

Kids Definition of sparse

: not thickly grown or settled a sparse beard

Other Words from sparse

sparsely adverb a sparsely populated village

More from Merriam-Webster on sparse

Nglish: Translation of sparse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sparse for Arabic Speakers


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