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scarce

[skairs]
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adjective, scarc·er, scarc·est.
  1. insufficient to satisfy the need or demand; not abundant: Meat and butter were scarce during the war.
  2. seldom met with; rare: a scarce book.
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adverb
  1. scarcely.
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Idioms
  1. make oneself scarce, Informal.
    1. to depart, especially suddenly.
    2. to stay away; avoid.
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Origin of scarce

1250–1300; Middle English scars < Old North French (e)scars < Vulgar Latin *excarpsus plucked out, for Latin excerptus; see excerpt
Related formsscarce·ness, nounun·scarce, adjectiveun·scarce·ly, adverbun·scarce·ness, noun
Can be confusedextinct rare scarce

Synonyms

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Antonyms

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

limitedrarescantydeficientsparsescantsporadicfailingfewoccasionalseldomshortshyuncommonunusualwantingtruncated

Examples from the Web for scarce

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • 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.

  • "And so belabored as to be scarce able to crawl along it," cried a third.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle


British Dictionary definitions for scarce

scarce

adjective
  1. rarely encountered
  2. insufficient to meet the demand
  3. make oneself scarce informal to go away, esp suddenly
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adverb
  1. archaic, or literary scarcely
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Derived Formsscarceness, noun

Word Origin

C13: from Old Norman French scars, from Vulgar Latin excarpsus (unattested) plucked out, from Latin excerpere to select; see excerpt
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 scarce

adj.

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with scarce

scarce

In addition to the idiom beginning with scarce

  • scarce as hen's teeth
  • scarcely ever

also see:

  • make oneself scarce
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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.