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  1. deficient in quantity or quality; lacking fullness or richness; scanty; inadequate: a meager salary; meager fare; a meager harvest.
  2. having little flesh; lean; thin: a body meager with hunger.
  3. maigre.
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Also especially British, mea·gre.

Origin of meager

1300–50; Middle English megre < Old French maigre < Latin macer lean
Related formsmea·ger·ly, adverbmea·ger·ness, noun


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1. See scanty. 2. gaunt, spare, skinny.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

paltry, tenuous, scanty, minimum, sparse, miserable, scant, insufficient, mere, puny, skimpy, slim, scrimpy, bare, barren, deficient, exiguous, flimsy, infertile, insubstantial

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Word Origin and History for meager


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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper