Definition of spare in English:

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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.


1An item kept in case another item of the same type is lost, broken, or worn out.
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.
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.


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.



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.
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.



Pronunciation: /ˈsperlē/
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.


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)
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.


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

  • In the senses ‘left over, extra’, and ‘to avoid harming’, spare is an Old English word, but the spare in spare ribs is quite different. Spare ribs probably comes from the old German word ribbesper, which meant ‘pickled pork ribs roasted on a spit’. Once English speakers started using the German term in the 16th century they soon swapped the two parts round to make it sound more like an English word ( compare sideburns). The title of the British feminist magazine Spare Rib, first published in 1972, is a pun on the ‘spare’ rib that God took from Adam's body to create the first woman, Eve.

Words that rhyme with spare

affair, affaire, air, Altair, Althusser, Anvers, Apollinaire, Astaire, aware, Ayer, Ayr, bare, bear, bêche-de-mer, beware, billionaire, Blair, blare, Bonaire, cafetière, care, chair, chargé d'affaires, chemin de fer, Cher, Clair, Claire, Clare, commissionaire, compare, concessionaire, cordon sanitaire, couvert, Daguerre, dare, debonair, declare, derrière, despair, doctrinaire, éclair, e'er, elsewhere, ensnare, ere, extraordinaire, Eyre, fair, fare, fayre, Finisterre, flair, flare, Folies-Bergère, forbear, forswear, foursquare, glair, glare, hair, hare, heir, Herr, impair, jardinière, Khmer, Kildare, La Bruyère, lair, laissez-faire, legionnaire, luminaire, mal de mer, mare, mayor, meunière, mid-air, millionaire, misère, Mon-Khmer, multimillionaire, ne'er, Niger, nom de guerre, outstare, outwear, pair, pare, parterre, pear, père, pied-à-terre, Pierre, plein-air, prayer, questionnaire, rare, ready-to-wear, rivière, Rosslare, Santander, savoir faire, scare, secretaire, share, snare, solitaire, Soufrière, square, stair, stare, surface-to-air, swear, Tailleferre, tare, tear, their, there, they're, vin ordinaire, Voltaire, ware, wear, Weston-super-Mare, where, yeah

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: spare

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