• synonyms


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.
Show More

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


See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
1–3. See scanty.


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

Related Words


Examples from the Web for sparsity

Historical Examples

  • The police were palpably disappointed at the sparsity of my knowledge respecting her.

    Tales of Chinatown

    Sax Rohmer

  • I have seen several houses furnished entirely by William Morris, and the first thing that impressed me was the sparsity of things.

  • What was most extraordinary was the sparsity and lowness of the trees and bushes, the fineness of the growth.

    The Sea and the Jungle

    H. M. Tomlinson

  • One of the prime difficulties is in the sparsity and uneven distribution of the cow population.

  • The sparsity of the population, the extent of the country, and its poverty, made a royal establishment impossible.

British Dictionary definitions for sparsity


  1. scattered or scanty; not dense
Show More
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 sparsity



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").

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper