[ spahrs ]
/ spɑrs /

adjective, spars·er, spars·est.

thinly scattered or distributed: a sparse population.
not thick or dense; thin: sparse hair.
scanty; meager.

Origin of sparse

1715–25; < Latin sparsus, past participle of spargere to scatter, sparge
Related forms Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for sparse


/ (spɑːs) /


scattered or scanty; not dense
Derived Formssparsely, adverbsparseness or sparsity, noun

Word Origin for sparse

C18: from Latin sparsus, from spargere to scatter
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 sparse



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").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper