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  1. a deficiency in quantity: a shortage of cash.
  2. the amount of such deficiency.

Origin of shortage

First recorded in 1865–70; short + -age
Related formspre·short·age, noun


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1. lack, want, scarcity.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for shortage


  1. a deficiency or lack in the amount needed, expected, or due; deficit
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

Word Origin and History for shortage


1862, American English, from short + -age.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

shortage in Culture


A condition that exists when demand exceeds supply because of a lack of equilibrium in a market. If a price is artificially low, buyers want to buy more of a good than sellers are willing to sell. (Compare surplus.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.