Definition of spare in English:


Syllabification: spare
Pronunciation: /sper


1Additional to what is required for ordinary use: few people had spare cash for inessentials
More example sentences
  • Many Beninese enjoy soft drinks and beer, but these require spare cash.
  • This space is reserved as a spare area for products with all primary defects and some secondary defects.
  • The large, silvery cradle - which has an embedded Dell logo that glows blue when the PDA is connected - has a secondary bay for recharging spare batteries.
extra, supplementary, additional, second, other, alternative, alternate;
emergency, reserve, backup, relief, fallback, substitute;
surplus, superfluous, excessive, extra;
redundant, unnecessary, inessential, unessential, unneeded, uncalled for, dispensable, disposable, expendable, unwanted
informal going begging
1.1Not currently in use or occupied: the spare bedroom
More example sentences
  • Keren occupied only one leaving his spare seats free.
  • Open crates and various strange pieces of equipment seemed to occupy every spare bit of space.
  • It's the only spare seat in the whole classroom.
2With no excess fat; thin: a spare, bearded figure
More example sentences
  • She was spare featured with a thin mouth and rectangular face.
  • Empty but not hungry, she felt sleek and spare, like a dragonfly.
  • A tall, spare man with jet black hair leaned over the counter to greet them.
2.1Elegantly simple: her clothes are smart and spare in style
More example sentences
  • Critics usually describe Hemingway's style as simple, spare, and journalistic.
  • These recordings are spare and simple - just three guys in a room playing clean, clear lines and letting them ring.
  • Glazed all along its south side, it offers a simple, spare and sunny series of places that provide a surprising number of possibilities for eating in company.
2.2Meager; nearly inadequate: the furnishings were spare and unadorned
More example sentences
  • The exterior materials are spare; the window frames are narrow and practically disappear.
  • Another smallish gallery is occupied by a spare installation by Eliasson.
  • But it has also become an aesthetic qualification: stripped down, spare, coldly simple.


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1An item kept in case another item of the same type is lost, broken, or worn out.
More example sentences
  • After E, above you put the kit back together and have a large box of spares left over.
  • He played his bass like he had five spares waiting backstage.
  • Everybody in the world should buy all Miyazaki's films twice and then give their spares to each other.
1.1A spare tire: make sure there are no problems with any of the tires, including the spare
More example sentences
  • You put two cases of beer, two suitcases and a real spare, not one of the doughnuts.
  • The manual recommends even for pavement not to use the spare for long.
  • You never know when you may need to change a flat tire and use the spare.
2(In tenpin bowling) an act of knocking down all the pins with two consecutive rolls of the ball.
More example sentences
  • I threw a gutter ball, screwing up my spare from the frame before.
  • After her first turn, she'd decided to get the five gutter balls out of the way and missed the first ball, then got a spare.
  • He knocked down nine pins with his first ball, then picked up the spare.


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1 [with two objects] Give (something of which one has enough) to (someone); afford to give to: she asked if I could spare her a dollar or two
More example sentences
  • You have all this money and you won't spare enough to let your own child go back home.
  • My most recent one just said basically that I'm a homeless man, can you spare some change to help me provide some food.
  • Can anyone spare me a couple of quid?
afford, do without, manage without, dispense with, part with, give, provide
1.1Make free or available: I’m sure you can spare me a moment
More example sentences
  • Then without sparing a moment's pity for the fawning, awkward creature that Jonas had become, Christy turned on her heels.
  • He spared a moment to take a glance at what was happening.
  • His voice dripped with ironic sarcasm, as he spared a moment to glance at her.
1.2 [no object] archaic Be frugal: but some will spend, and some will spare
2 [with object] Refrain from killing, injuring, or distressing: there was no way the men would spare her
More example sentences
  • For where is the man who would spare the lives of the vanquished if he saw more profit in killing than in sparing them?…
  • The rains in the end of May did not spare even posh areas.
  • And I have to say that my opinion is with the rest of my family that the fact that her life was spared was enough.
pardon, let off, forgive, reprieve, release, free;
leave uninjured, leave unhurt;
be merciful to, show mercy to, have mercy on, be lenient to, have pity on
2.1 [with two objects] Refrain from inflicting (something) on (someone): the country had until now been spared the violence occurring elsewhere
More example sentences
  • Much of the film feels profoundly sad, as Donovan spares no unpleasant detail, making for a sobering look at someone so attached to the bottle.
  • As children's fears invite adult protection, an anxious child will be spared from unpleasant duties or routines.
  • We are spared most of the violence of the situation, and really only see its conclusion.
2.2 (spare oneself) [with negative] Try to ensure or satisfy one’s own comfort or needs: in her concern to help others, she has never spared herself
More example sentences
  • No doubt Pat Grant will be lining himself up for a shot at the chair when it falls vacant in five years time, and meantime he'll not be sparing himself in his endeavours to prove his credentials.
  • He was extremely hardworking, never sparing himself in the performance of his duties and once he fainted in his office from exhaustion and almost died.
  • He was always the quiet one to lead by example, never sparing himself.


Old English spær 'not plentiful, meager', sparian 'refrain from injuring', 'refrain from using', of Germanic origin; related to Dutch and German sparen 'to spare'.


go spare

British informal
1Become extremely angry or distraught: he’d go spare if he lost the money
More example sentences
  • I was shocked to see that someone had been digging badgers out - I went spare and my wife had to calm me down.
  • ‘He just went spare,’ says Dorrie, breaking down.
  • I'll be going spare, pleading with you, but you mustn't give in to me - no matter what.
2Be unwanted or not needed and therefore available for use: I didn’t have much money going spare
More example sentences
  • The man on the street seemed positive, he had loads going spare.
  • If anyone has any blue glass bottles going spare, I could use them; I haven't quite got enough and the thought of having to drink Harvey's Bristol Cream to get some more is too much, really.
  • My friend Mouse had got so many tickets they cost (wait for it) £750 and he had rung me in something of a last minute fluster with one going spare.

spare no effort

Do everything one possibly can in order to achieve something: we will spare no effort to secure the release of the captives
More example sentences
  • Early last July, Economy Minister Nikolai Vassilev said the Government had spared no effort to help the owners immediately resume operation.
  • Addressing a UN forum in Brasilia on Tuesday night, Silva vowed to spare no effort in the fight against corruption.
  • Private organizations promoting judicial reform also spared no effort to help.

spare no expense (or no expense spared)

Pay any amount in order to achieve something.
More example sentences
  • The food is as refined as the surroundings - and like the proprietors, prepare to spare no expense to get the most from your dining experience.
  • Encouraged to publish her findings, she spared no expense in preparing the original paintings for a volume on Surinam.
  • Korda apparently spared no expense to achieve the scope and look he had in mind.

spare the rod and spoil the child

see rod.

spare a thought for

chiefly British Remember: spare a thought for our volunteer group at Christmas
More example sentences
  • And spare a thought for all those others, whose names are a ball and chain they must pull after them through the wilderness of this world.
  • Amid euphoric celebrations following last week's cut in interest rates, few of us spared a thought for savers, and even fewer remembered we are all savers through our pension schemes.
  • We work on our computers every single day never sparing a thought for all those millions of chunks of data spread all over our hard disks.

to spare

Left over: that turkey will feed ten people with some to spare
More example sentences
  • If you try and do it in your spare time, you very quickly realize that you have no spare time to spare for anything else.
  • If you want to follow a story, and you have time to spare, you can read, hear or see it in at least a hundred different versions.
  • Her album is due out in mid-July and she only has a week to spare amid all the promotions, so she can't do both.



More example sentences
  • But while the work has caused some controversy since its premiere in 1999, the sparely staged Tongue is ultimately a testament to the power of understanding.
  • If you took a map of Australia and drew a wonky circle around the middle of the country, you'd land in the outback: red dirt, sparely inhabited, the back country.
  • The Queen's Gallery is a trim, sparely designed enclosure within the wide and steep but surprisingly narrow fabric of Buckingham Palace.


More example sentences
  • There's the wood panelling, high stools and football on the telly that you'd expect, but the soothing green walls, the dark chocolate brown booths, and a certain spareness about it all are a relief.
  • Through her art, Piper brings together conceptualism, minimalism and the politics of identity in a forceful collision that results in a passionate spareness.
  • There is another aspect of Arcady that is more difficult to describe, but which owes primarily to the disarming simplicity of the book's lexicon and spareness of its phrasing.


( rare )
More example sentences
  • Generally, I found Pedersen's coverage to be sparer of the two books in this variation.
  • Sadly, the prose doesn't sing the way Chandler's does, holding much more to the sparer style used by Parker.
  • His drawings are sparer, more ‘in glorious black and white,’ more elegantly stylized, more Weegee, less rough than his brother's.

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Pronunciation: dɪˈmɒrəlʌɪz
cause (someone) to lose confidence or hope