- 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.
- to depart, especially suddenly.
- to stay away; avoid.
Origin of scarce
SynonymsSee more synonyms for scarce on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for scarce
Now, visitors are scarce and the jungle is taking over, leaving some locals nostalgic.Six Must-Read Stories About the Sony Hacks, Congo’s Forgotten Colonial Getaway and Another Woman’s Story of U-VA
The Daily Beast
December 20, 2014
We fight over their ownership and control, as if reality were a resource as scarce as the water and oil in Mad Max.On Torture, Chuck Johnson & Sondheim
December 13, 2014
After two decades of war, even the most basic infrastructure is scarce.A Belgian Prince, Gorillas, Guerrillas & the Future of the Congo
November 6, 2014
It is not a scarce commodity to be meted out begrudgingly or in short portions.The Heroic Lesbian Couple of Oklahoma Who Fought for Equal Marriage—and Won
Randy R. Potts
October 7, 2014
But while lawmakers vocally opposed to the deal were scarce, it faced some criticism in the think tank world.It’s a Miracle! Congress Compromises on VA Reform Bill
July 29, 2014
Maybe he museth, but he had scarce a word to say for himself.The Armourer's Prentices
Charlotte M. Yonge
The Jews were the subjects of a foreign race and money was scarce.Ancient Man
Hendrik Willem van Loon
She had left it impulsively, she admitted, scarce knowing what she did.Malbone
Thomas Wentworth Higginson
Scarce was there an eye but what was suffused with tears of joy.A Sketch of the Life of Brig. Gen. Francis Marion
William Dobein James
"And so belabored as to be scarce able to crawl along it," cried a third.The White Company
Arthur Conan Doyle
- rarely encountered
- insufficient to meet the demand
- make oneself scarce informal to go away, esp suddenly
- archaic, or literary scarcely
Word Origin and History for scarce
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.