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[mee-ger] /ˈmi gər/
deficient in quantity or quality; lacking fullness or richness; scanty; inadequate:
a meager salary; meager fare; a meager harvest.
having little flesh; lean; thin:
a body meager with hunger.
Also, especially British, meagre.
Origin of meager
1300-50; Middle English megre < Old French maigre < Latin macer lean
Related forms
meagerly, adverb
meagerness, noun
1. See scanty. 2. gaunt, spare, skinny. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for meagre
Historical Examples
  • She was the most meagre craft, in the way of outfit, I ever put to sea in.

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
  • She was very tall, built on the lines of a beauty transcending our meagre strain.

    Tiverton Tales Alice Brown
  • They were too poor to give him any but the most meagre education.

    Self-Help Samuel Smiles
  • Trees are also very rare on that spot, and these poor, meagre, and cancerous.

    The History of Louisiana Le Page Du Pratz
  • Dugald Stewart's meagre definition may serve us for a starting point.

  • There were no words in her meagre vocabulary to voice her bitterness of heart.

  • The income derived from this source was, however, but a meagre one.

    Fruitfulness Emile Zola
  • In the kitchen of Roberts's cottage a meagre little fire is burning.

    Strife (First Series Plays) John Galsworthy
  • His visage was meagre, his hair lank and thin, and his voice hollow.

    The Republic Plato
  • There was only the most meagre pretense at greeting when these men came face to face.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine
British Dictionary definitions for meagre


deficient in amount, quality, or extent
thin or emaciated
lacking in richness or strength
Derived Forms
meagrely, (US) meagerly, adverb
meagreness, (US) meagerness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French maigre,from Latin macer lean, poor
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for meagre

chiefly British English spelling of meager (q.v.); for spelling, see -re.



late 14c. (late 12c. as a surname), "lean, thin, emaciated" (of persons or animals), from Old French megre, maigre "thin" (12c.), from Latin macrum (nominative macer) "lean, thin" (source of Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian magro), from PIE *makro- (see macro-). Of material things (land, food, etc.) from early 15c. Cognate Germanic words (Old Norse magr "thin," Old High German magar, German mager, Middle Dutch magher, Dutch mager, Old English mæger) come directly from the PIE root via Proto-Germanic *magras and are not from Latin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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