Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Infrequently occurring; uncommon: a rare event; a plant that is rare in this region.
  • adj. Excellent; extraordinary: a rare sense of honor.
  • adj. Thin in density: rarefied: rare air.
  • adj. Cooked just a short time so as to retain juice and redness: a rare steak.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Cooked very lightly, so the meat is still red (in the case of steak or beef in the general sense).
  • adj. Very uncommon; scarce.
  • adj. thin; of low density
  • v. To rear, rise up, start backwards.
  • v. To rear, bring up, raise.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Early.
  • adj. Nearly raw; partially cooked; not thoroughly cooked; underdone.
  • adj. Not frequent; seldom met with or occurring; unusual.
  • adj. Of an uncommon nature; unusually excellent; valuable to a degree seldom found.
  • adj. Thinly scattered; dispersed.
  • adj. Characterized by wide separation of parts; of loose texture; not thick or dense; thin.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Thin; porous; not dense; of slight consistence; rarefied; having relatively little matter in a given volume: as, a rare substance; the rare atmosphere of high mountains.
  • Thinly scattered; coming or occurring at wide intervals; sparse; dispersed.
  • Very uncommon or infrequent; seldom occurring or to be found; hardly ever met with.
  • Hence Remarkable from uncommonness; especially, uncommonly good, excellent, valuable, fine, or the like; of an excellence seldom met with.
  • Synonyms Rare, Scarce, infrequent, unusual. Rare implies that only few of the kind exist: as, perfect diamonds are rare. Scarce properly implies a previous or usual condition of greater abundance. Rare, means that there are much fewer of a kind to be found than may be found where scarce would apply.
  • Singular, extraordinary, incomparable, choice.
  • Not thoroughly cooked; partly cooked; underdone: applied to meat: as, rare beef; a rare chop.
  • Early.
  • A dialectal form of rear.
  • An obsolete form of roar.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. (of meat) cooked a short time; still red inside
  • adj. not widely distributed
  • adj. not widely known; especially valued for its uncommonness
  • adj. having low density
  • adj. recurring only at long intervals
  • adj. marked by an uncommon quality; especially superlative or extreme of its kind

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French, from Latin rārus.
Middle English rere, lightly boiled, from Old English hrēr; see kerə- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From a dialectal variant of rear, from Middle English rere, from Old English hrēr, hrēre ("not thoroughly cooked, underdone, lightly boiled"), from hrēran ("to move, shake, agitate"), from Proto-Germanic *hrōzijanan (“to stir”), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱera-, *ḱrā- (“to mix, stir, cook”). Related to Old English hrōr ("stirring, busy, active, strong, brave"). More at rear. (Wiktionary)
From Middle English rare, from Old French rare, rere ("rare, uncommon"), from Latin rārus ("loose, spaced apart, thin, infrequent"), from Proto-Indo-European *er(e)-, *rē- (“friable, thin”). Replaced native Middle English gesen ("rare, scarce"; from Old English gǣsne), Middle English seld ("rare, uncommon"; from Old English selden), and Middle English seldsene ("rare, rarely seen, infrequent"; from Old Norse sialdsēnn; See seldsome). (Wiktionary)
Variant of rear. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • It's not that those rare new classics or rare new breakthrough works can't happen, it's that they are _rare_.

    Downhill Fast

  • "Well," announced he, as he put down the box and pulled his adikey over his head, "I were seein 'Santa Claus th' day an 'givin' he a rare scoldin 'for passin' my maid by these two year -- a _rare_ scoldin '-- an'

    Ungava Bob A Winter's Tale

  • In his own thoroughly strange 1946 novel Life Comes to Seathorpe, Neil Bell appropriates the term "rare books" to designate members of a new, dissident literary canon.

    The stars of modern SF pick the best science fiction

  • But many people are puzzled by the term "rare earth."

    Rare Earth Elements Becoming Hot Commodity

  • If you think about it, even the term rare coins connotes scarcity, which is an important attribute of all successful products, whether they be collectibles or everyday consumer items.

    Creating Wealth

  • NOTE TO EDITORS: Scientists use the term rare-earth elements to describe 17 elements, including: scandium and yttrium, plus the 15 so-called lanthanides.

    EurekAlert! - Breaking News

  • Today, rare earths are a global story-and a global investment opportunity-even if the term rare earth is somewhat misleading.

    Company Poised to Cash In on Global Demand for Metals - CNBC

  • Mexico's government says the program was aimed at raising public awareness of what it calls a rare success in Mexico, creating an honest police force.

    Mexican Ministry Paid for Cop Show

  • When the Songwriters Hall of Fame honored Taylor Swift in June, her colleague John Mayer presented the award, comparing the 20-year-old country-pop starlet (and himself, incidentally) to a "black swan" which he defined as a rare species which both writes and performs hit songs.

    A Pop Follow-Up; Back to the Wall

  • The government says it will not tolerate what it terms rare cases of illegal production and exports.

    CNN Transcript Aug 15, 2007

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Comments

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  • I'd like to see this rare Chinese character: link.

    September 2, 2010

  • "But here, in Dreamland's centre,
    No spoiler's hand may enter,
    These visions fair, this radiance rare,
    Shall never pass away.
    I see the shadows falling,
    The forms of old recalling;
    Around me tread the mighty dead,
    And slowly pass away."
    - Lewis Carroll, 'Dreamland'.

    August 9, 2008