\ 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 sparsity (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 her follow-up, this year's Whole New Mess, Olsen went in the exact opposite direction, revisiting the sparse, solo folk songs of her earlier work. Marcus Jones,, "Friday Five: Dominic Fike sees vampires, Juicy J is high as a kite, and more," 31 July 2020 Because of the intentionally sparse crowd, the evening lacked some of the flavor normally associated with the opening of a new stadium. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville City FC fans take a solid step toward normalcy with debut of Lynn Family Stadium," 13 July 2020 At the beginning of the disease's emergence in the United States, there was conflicting messaging about whether or not healthy Americans should wear them and medical supplies and equipment were sparse. Fox News, "Rep. Biggs on COVID-19: If people are relying solely on Fauci and Birx, that’s 'a problem'," 9 July 2020 Research on how white parents discuss race with their children is sparse. David Chae, Leoandra Onnie Rogers And Tiffany Yip, CNN, "White parents: Talk to your kids about racism to raise more empathic adults," 7 July 2020 The state's output slipped to below 1 million barrels daily in May amid low energy prices and sparse demand. Dave Kolpack, The Christian Science Monitor, "Dakota Access pipeline halted pending environmental review," 7 July 2020 Morricone's style was sparse, made of memorable tunes and unusual instruments and arrangements, and often stirred deep emotions. Frances D'emilio, Anchorage Daily News, "Ennio Morricone, who created atmospheric soundtracks for ‘spaghetti westerns’ and more, has died at 91," 6 July 2020 While thousands of businesses applied for a financial lifeline under the PPP program administered by the SBA, details of how many and what businesses got money have been sparse. Alexander Coolidge, The Enquirer, "LaRosa's, Frisch's, Skyline: Cincinnati small businesses approved for up to $5.8B through Paycheck Protection Program," 6 July 2020 Aside from restrooms, a pavilion and some picnic tables, current amenities are sparse. al, "Mobile County has big plans for its new waterfront park," 3 July 2020

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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Time Traveler for sparse

Time Traveler

The first known use of sparse was in 1753

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Statistics for sparse

Last Updated

4 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sparse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for sparse


How to pronounce sparse (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on sparse

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sparse

Spanish Central: Translation of sparse

Nglish: Translation of sparse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sparse for Arabic Speakers

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