\ 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 Mary Louise Sowers — the program manager at Boston Centers for Youth & Families on Vine Street in Roxbury, which hosts a cooling center — blamed a lack of transportation as one reason for the sparse turnout there., 8 June 2021 The majority of the film is confined to as single sparse apartment, and solid acting by a game cast (including the always-welcome Alfre Woodard) can only move the ball so far. Scott Mendelson, Forbes, 4 June 2021 The left-hander’s last two seasons comprised sparse chances and struggles at the major-league level. Matt Kawahara, San Francisco Chronicle, 5 May 2021 The website makes sparse mention of Tenet, which first acquired the hospital in the 1990s, before selling it to another for-profit and then buying it again. Amy Littlefield, The New Republic, 4 May 2021 In that time frame, Gascón held a pair of public events, including a news conference to lend support to a piece of legislation, but still offered only sparse details about the changes. James Queally, Los Angeles Times, 22 Apr. 2021 Recorded in his basement on vocals and electric guitar, the sparse cover stays pretty true to the original, with Bartees’ vocals lending a new level of emotion to the track. Emily Zemler, Rolling Stone, 22 Apr. 2021 Los Angeles put on a dunking exhibition for the sparse number of fans in the stands. Beth Harris, Star Tribune, 17 Apr. 2021 It’s also the ideal time to overseed and fill in sparse areas. Arricca Elin Sansone, House Beautiful, 15 Apr. 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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Statistics for sparse

Last Updated

18 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sparse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 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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