deficient in quantity or quality; lacking fullness or richness; scanty; inadequate: a meager salary; meager fare; a meager harvest.
having little flesh; lean; thin: a body meager with hunger.

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

Synonyms for meager

1. See scanty. 2. gaunt, spare, skinny. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for meagre

Historical Examples of meagre

  • She was the most meagre craft, in the way of outfit, I ever put to sea in.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • She was very tall, built on the lines of a beauty transcending our meagre strain.

    Tiverton Tales

    Alice Brown

  • They were too poor to give him any but the most meagre education.


    Samuel Smiles

  • Trees are also very rare on that spot, and these poor, meagre, and cancerous.

    The History of Louisiana

    Le Page Du Pratz

  • Dugald Stewart's meagre definition may serve us for a starting point.

British Dictionary definitions for meagre


US meager


deficient in amount, quality, or extent
thin or emaciated
lacking in richness or strength
Derived Formsmeagrely or US meagerly, adverbmeagreness or US meagerness, noun

Word Origin for meagre

C14: from Old French maigre, from Latin macer lean, poor
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 meagre

chiefly British English spelling of meager (q.v.); for spelling, see -re.



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper