\ 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

But the clams were sparse, and only about four pounds were gathered. Chris Mooney, Anchorage Daily News, "Large parts of the globe have already passed a crucial climate threshold," 11 Sep. 2019 Information on what’s happening in the camps is sparse, but reports of prison-like conditions, forced pledges to the Chinese Communist Party, and renunciation of Islam have emerged. Mike Murphy, Quartz, "Apple implies iPhones were hacked to spy on China’s Uyghur Muslims," 6 Sep. 2019 These speculative beginnings are usually placed in the age of barbarians, where documentation is conveniently sparse. Jacob Mikanowski, Harper's magazine, "The Call of the Drums," 21 July 2019 The department was not tracking injuries and kept sparse details surrounding deaths until after the Journal Sentinel’s investigation. Raquel Rutledge, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Mother's nightmare at Mexico resort: 'There is more to this deeper darker story than we know'," 21 Feb. 2018 Last season's hero Divock Origi has been ruled out for a couple of weeks with an ankle problem leaving cover in attack sparse., "Rhian Brewster: It's Time to Finally See What England's Other Wonderkid Can Do," 17 Sep. 2019 The Jayhawks pitched a shutout, dominating the clock with 18:39 of second-half possession that sapped the life out of the Eagles and sent an already sparse crowd heading for the exits., "Miscommunication and missed assignments plagued the secondary. The defensive line perpetually watched Kansas running backs Khalil Herbert and Pooka Williams burst through holes untouched.," 15 Sep. 2019 Landing the same time slot as Bryan Adams’ wildly popular set on the Sunset Cliffs stage, Keuning unfortunately faced a shamefully sparse crowd at Trestles. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: At KAABOO, ex-Killer Dave Keuning plays from the heart in his biggest hometown solo show yet," 15 Sep. 2019 There isn’t enough extant work to fully flesh out his character beyond the sparse details of his biography. Washington Post, "The first major U.S. show devoted to the artist who helped forge Leonardo da Vinci’s genius," 12 Sep. 2019

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 2019

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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 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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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