sparse

play
adjective \ˈspärs\

Definition of sparse

sparser

;

sparsest

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

sparsely

adverb

sparseness

noun

sparsity

play \ˈspär-sə-tē, -stē\ noun

Examples of sparse in a Sentence

  1. open land is sparse around here

Recent Examples of sparse from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of sparse

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


First Known Use: 1753

Synonym Discussion of 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

SPARSE Defined for English Language Learners

sparse

play
adjective

Definition of sparse for English Language Learners

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


SPARSE Defined for Kids

sparse

play
adjective \ˈspärs\

Definition of sparse for Students

sparser

;

sparsest

  1. :  not thickly grown or settled a sparse beard

sparsely

adverb a sparsely populated village


Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

to glide in or as if in an airplane

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • istock-refers-to-this-as-a-tumble-of-strawberries-which-sounded-pretty-nice-to-us
  • Which is a synonym of garner?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!