- thinly scattered or distributed: a sparse population.
- not thick or dense; thin: sparse hair.
- scanty; meager.
Origin of sparse
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
- scattered or scanty; not dense
Word Origin and History for sparsely
1727, from Latin sparsus "scattered," past participle of spargere "to scatter, spread," from PIE root *(s)pregh- "to jerk, scatter" (cf. Sanskrit parjanya- "rain, rain god," Avestan fra-sparega "branch, twig," literally "that which is jerked off a tree," Old Norse freknur "freckles," Swedish dialectal sprygg "brisk, active," Lithuanian sprogti "shoot, bud," Old Irish arg "a drop").