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See more synonyms for sparse on Thesaurus.com
adjective, spars·er, spars·est.
  1. thinly scattered or distributed: a sparse population.
  2. not thick or dense; thin: sparse hair.
  3. scanty; meager.
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Origin of sparse

1715–25; < Latin sparsus, past participle of spargere to scatter, sparge
Related formssparse·ly, adverbsparse·ness, spar·si·ty [spahr-si-tee] /ˈspɑr sɪ ti/, nounun·sparse, adjectiveun·sparse·ly, adverbun·sparse·ness, noun


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1–3. See scanty.


1–3. abundant.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


British Dictionary definitions for sparseness


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

Word Origin

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 sparseness



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").

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper