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scarce Line breaks: scarce
Pronunciation: /skɛːs/

Definition of scarce in English:


1(Especially of food, money, or some other resource) insufficient for the demand: as raw materials became scarce, synthetics were developed
More example sentences
  • This was compounded by a growing competition for scarce food resources.
  • They saw their families and communities through difficult times, when money was scarce and the demands of rural life were very demanding.
  • This may be so fundamental to the business that diverting scarce resources and money into longer-term plans would be wrong.
in short supply, short, scant, scanty, meagre, sparse, hard to find, hard to come by, not enough, too little, insufficient, deficient, inadequate, lacking, wanting;
at a premium, like gold dust, not to be had, scarcer than hen's teeth;
paltry, negligible, thin
informal not to be had for love nor money
rare exiguous
1.1Occurring in small numbers or quantities; rare: the freshwater shrimp becomes scarce in soft water
More example sentences
  • Tatum rabbet planes are scarce to rare and this was a nice example.
  • They were the secret of that period of time. They are still fairly rare, fairly scarce.
  • In some ways it can be considered as a miniature flora of an area, highlighting the locally rare and scarce species.


archaic Back to top  
Scarcely: a babe scarce two years old
More example sentences
  • In recent years, the beleaguered couple have been scarce on the social scene.
  • I went to the bucket but there was scarce any left.
  • At that moment the beast-man charged the Kshatriya; Viro scarce had time to roll.


make oneself scarce
informal Leave a place, especially so as to avoid a difficult situation: I could see he was annoyed so I made myself scarce
More example sentences
  • ‘It was an empty building and a small piece of glass,’ said PC Lewis, who expected the majority of people in the same situation would have made themselves scarce.
  • Shelley and Thomas however, had made themselves scarce and gone to clear up the kitchen.
  • The boy had made himself scarce in the past week, obviously avoiding the messengers for the day.


Pronunciation: /ˈskɛːsnəs/
Example sentences
  • This last component supposedly arose in response to the scarceness of Arabic speakers in America's armed forces and intelligence organizations.
  • The eiresione and the first-fruit sacrifice are typical signs of seasonal renewal: the first signs of coming prosperity after the scarceness of the winter period.
  • Munificence relates to the scarceness of environment resources that support firm growth in a given industry.


Middle English (in the sense 'restricted in quantity or size', also 'parsimonious'): from a shortening of Anglo-Norman escars, from a Romance word meaning 'plucked out, selected'.

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