\ 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 Like Woolf’s book, too, the plot is sparse, with a richness that comes in part from the way its taut moments vibrate with history. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, 8 Oct. 2021 Koffi suddenly remembered all the little moments too, the times Mama had shared her food when meals were sparse, or shared her blanket on colder nights. Ew Staff,, 27 Sep. 2021 Playing time has been sparse this season for Pope, a senior who has remained a backup throughout his career with the Buckeyes. Joey Kaufman, USA TODAY, 26 Sep. 2021 Details in today’s release are sparse, but judging by the photos released, the size of the gadget and the remote functionality look comparable to what users of Apple TVs and Roku Ultras might already be familiar with. Eric Vilas-boas, Vulture, 22 Sep. 2021 Nations where vaccination has been sparse — including Malaysia, Mexico, Iran and Australia — are in the midst of their biggest outbreaks yet, fueled by the contagious delta strain. Michelle Cortez,, 14 Sep. 2021 The single-family market is both extremely sparse and highly coveted on the Outer Cape., 16 May 2021 In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Tigers found a sparse scoring opportunity. Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press, 26 Apr. 2021 Much of Rio country consists of sparse, dry vegetation with very few trees suitable for roosting. Josh Dahlke, Outdoor Life, 4 Mar. 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

16 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sparse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Oct. 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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