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[skairs] /skɛərs/
adjective, scarcer, scarcest.
insufficient to satisfy the need or demand; not abundant:
Meat and butter were scarce during the war.
seldom met with; rare:
a scarce book.
make oneself scarce, Informal.
  1. to depart, especially suddenly.
  2. to stay away; avoid.
Origin of scarce
1250-1300; Middle English scars < Old North French (e)scars < Vulgar Latin *excarpsus plucked out, for Latin excerptus; see excerpt
Related forms
scarceness, noun
unscarce, adjective
unscarcely, adverb
unscarceness, noun
Can be confused
extinct, rare, scarce.
1. deficient. 2. uncommon, infrequent.
1. abundant. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for scarcer
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But man-of-war's men are scarcer, my friends, than hen's teeth!

    The Long Roll Mary Johnston
  • The otters were scarcer than the beavers, but were hunted much in the same manner.

    The Hunters of the Ozark Edward S. Ellis
  • In a few months, good liquor will be scarcer than an electric blanket in hell.

    Revenge Arthur Porges
  • Work was growing scarcer and scarcer as the winter advanced.

    The Toilers of the Field Richard Jefferies
  • But along above here they began to get fish, as the game got scarcer.

  • Many of the scarcer examples of Bartolozzi have been imitated.

    The Book-Collector William Carew Hazlitt
  • If they are already "scarce," increasing demand must make them scarcer.

    The Principles of Economics Frank A. Fetter
  • Not by strikes, during the continuance of which food is scarcer than before.

    A Few Words About the Devil Charles Bradlaugh
  • scarcer still are those whom it will transform in the future.

    Paris William Walton
British Dictionary definitions for scarcer


rarely encountered
insufficient to meet the demand
(informal) make oneself scarce, to go away, esp suddenly
(archaic or literary) scarcely
Derived Forms
scarceness, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old Norman French scars, from Vulgar Latin excarpsus (unattested) plucked out, from Latin excerpere to select; see excerpt
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 scarcer



c.1300, "restricted in quantity," from Old North French scars "scanty, scarce" (Old French eschars, Modern French échars) from Vulgar Latin *scarsus, from *escarpsus, from *excarpere "pluck out," from classical Latin excerpere "pluck out" (see excerpt). As an adverb early 14c. from the adjective. Phrase to make oneself scarce "go away" first attested 1771, noted as a current "cant phrase." Related: Scarcely.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with scarcer


In addition to the idiom beginning with scarce also see: make oneself scarce
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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