\ 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 Grounded in the United Nations’ Outer Space Treaty of 1967, these new guidelines are sparse on specifics but generally suggest norms of behavior, with the U.S. notionally leading by example. Leonard David, Scientific American, "NASA Proposes New Rules for Moon-Focused Space Race," 21 May 2020 Because of insurance and health concerns, funerals and gatherings have become sparse. Philip Montgomery, New York Times, "Fear, Trauma, Hope and Calm," 15 May 2020 But with many offices and restaurants closed, sources of sustenance have become sparse. ... Stephanie Yang, WSJ, "New York City’s Virus Lockdown Means New Challenges for Rats and Local Wildlife," 13 May 2020 The details on how and when this will happen remain sparse, editor Chris Quinn says in today’s podcast. cleveland, "Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is getting ready to reopen the restaurants: The Wake Up podcast," 5 May 2020 In Spain, which has been hit hard by the lockdown’s impact on tourism, traffic was sparse in the neighborhood around Real Madrid’s soccer stadium, with its normally bustling shops and restaurants. Flavia Rotondi, Fortune, "Europe’s reopening road map: How 11 countries are beginning to lift lockdowns," 5 May 2020 Compared to other premium rides, the standard package is a bit sparse on luxurious items. Rachel Rothman, Good Housekeeping, "The Best New Family Cars of 2020," 22 Apr. 2020 An island of meadows and rugged mountains, Tasmania is roughly the size of West Virginia, though its population — about a half million — is more sparse. Washington Post, "How Johnson & Johnson companies used a ‘super poppy’ to make narcotics for America’s most abused opioid pills," 26 Mar. 2020 Held in a sparse part of the state on the edge of a national forest, the stop drew about 150 people during snowy weather. Chris Sikich, Indianapolis Star, "Buttigieg and Sanders vie for the heart of Democratic voters in New Hampshire," 11 Feb. 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

28 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sparse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Jun. 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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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