spare 1 of 3

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as in to scant
to use or give out in stingy amounts I'll have a banana split—and don't spare the whipped cream

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spare

2 of 3

adjective

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spare

3 of 3

noun

as in backup
an interchangeable part or piece of equipment that is kept on hand for replacement of an original we promptly replaced the burnt-out lightbulb with a spare

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How does the adjective spare contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of spare are gaunt, lanky, lank, lean, rawboned, scrawny, and skinny. While all these words mean "thin because of an absence of excess flesh," spare suggests leanness from abstemious living or constant exercise.

the gymnast's spare figure

When could gaunt be used to replace spare?

The words gaunt and spare are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, gaunt implies marked thinness or emaciation as from overwork or suffering.

a prisoner's gaunt face

When is lank a more appropriate choice than spare?

The meanings of lank and spare largely overlap; however, lank implies tallness as well as leanness.

the lank legs of the heron

When is it sensible to use lanky instead of spare?

In some situations, the words lanky and spare are roughly equivalent. However, lanky suggests awkwardness and loose-jointedness as well as thinness.

a lanky youth, all arms and legs

When can lean be used instead of spare?

The synonyms lean and spare are sometimes interchangeable, but lean stresses lack of fat and of curving contours.

a lean racehorse

When would rawboned be a good substitute for spare?

The words rawboned and spare can be used in similar contexts, but rawboned suggests a large ungainly build without implying undernourishment.

a rawboned farmer

How do scrawny and skinny relate to one another, in the sense of spare?

Both scrawny and skinny imply an extreme leanness that suggests deficient strength and vitality.

a scrawny chicken
skinny street urchins

Thesaurus Entries Near spare

Cite this Entry

“Spare.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/spare. Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

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