\ˈspärs \
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, -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

Chairman Vivek Ranadive addressed the sparse crowd after the game with words of sympathy for Clark and the protesters. Ryan Sabalow, Jason Jones, Tony Bizjak, Dale Kasler And Ed Fletcher, sacbee, "Police work on plan to get fans safely into Thursday's Kings game. Will they show up?," 29 Mar. 2018 My beautiful brows were looking, let’s say, sparse. Jane Chertoff, SELF, "This Is Why Your Eyebrows Are Thinner Than They Used to Be—and What to Do About It," 13 July 2018 Khan gives it more of a biting edge with sparse bass rumbles and wild textures. Kat Bein, Billboard, "Diplo Drops 'California' Remix Package, Valentino Khan Reworks 'Deadpool 2' Single," 29 June 2018 This simple step will help even the sparsest fringe look instantly fuller by filling in the gaps between your lashes. Devon Abelman, Allure, "The 11 Best Volumizing Mascaras that Are Basically Lash Extensions in a Tube," 20 June 2018 Food offerings are sparse for bar-hoppers headed down Folsom Boulevard into East Sacramento and beyond after a night out, Ostrander said, and the drive-through lines at a nearby McDonald's and Taco Bell regularly pile up past midnight. Benjy Egel, sacbee, "'Chipotle of Asian cuisine' opening soon in East Sac by former Paragary's chefs," 6 July 2018 Salazar said the baby appeared to be less than a year old at the time of its death, but other than that, details of the baby's identity are still sparse. Matthew Martinez, star-telegram, "Cops raided Texas home for drugs. They found a baby's body 'beyond decomposition'," 4 July 2018 Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel was the star of Denmark's 1-0 victory over Peru, and scoring opportunities for both sides could be sparse with Australia coach Bert van Marwijk committed to a defensive style of play. Ben Nuckols,, "Messi, Argentina under pressure to win against Croatia," 20 June 2018 Stylish accommodations are still sparse in these parts but exceptions include the four small inns opened since 2014 by fifth-generation Livingston Manorite Sims Foster and his wife, Kirsten. Elizabeth Dunn, WSJ, "A Stress-Free Summer Weekend in the Catskills," 15 June 2018

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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Statistics for sparse

Last Updated

16 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sparse

The first known use of sparse was in 1753

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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 \
sparser; sparsest

Kids Definition of sparse

: not thickly grown or settled a sparse beard

Other Words from sparse

sparsely adverb a sparsely populated village

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Comments on sparse

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


lying above or upon

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