Try Our Apps


The saddest words


[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. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for scarcest
Historical Examples
  • Each of these, now, is worth half-a-crown or three shillings, for they are the scarcest things possible.

    The Ground-Ash Mary Russell Mitford
  • The scarcest monkey in Borneo is the proboscis, or long-nosed.

  • For the last five years I have been planning to come to these Highlands and dig in—where humanity is the scarcest.

    David Lannarck, Midget George S. Harney
  • It is far and away the scarcest and most precious substance in the world.

    The Skylark of Space Edward Elmer Smith and Lee Hawkins Garby
  • Ice is about the scarcest thing in England, and cannot be had at the majority of bars.

    Nasby in Exile David R. Locke
  • I could have a hundred lovers—but, ach, friends are the scarcest things in the world.

    Truxton King George Barr McCutcheon
  • It is one of the scarcest of books, there being, according to Mr. Moule, not more than fifty copies in the kingdom.

    The Curiosities of Heraldry Mark Antony Lower
  • Again, there is a call for that scarcest of all things—statesmanship.

  • When Osborne sold the Harley collection, the scarcest old English books fetched but three or four shillings.

    The Library Andrew Lang
  • One of the scarcest things about this mine was timber with which to support the roof of the only drift that was being opened.

    The Copper Princess Kirk Munroe
British Dictionary definitions for scarcest


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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for scarcest



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
Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with scarcest


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.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for scarce

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for scarcest

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for scarcest