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

  • adj. Insufficient to meet a demand or requirement; short in supply: Fresh vegetables were scarce during the drought.
  • adj. Hard to find; absent or rare: Steel pennies are scarce now except in coin shops.
  • adv. Barely or hardly; scarcely.
  • idiom make (oneself) scarce Informal To stay away; be absent or elusive.
  • idiom make (oneself) scarce Informal To depart, especially quickly or furtively; abscond.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Uncommon, rare; difficult to find; insufficient to meet a demand.
  • adv. Scarcely, only just.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Not plentiful or abundant; in small quantity in proportion to the demand; not easily to be procured; rare; uncommon.
  • adj. Scantily supplied (with); deficient (in); -- with of.
  • adj. Sparing; frugal; parsimonious; stingy.
  • adv. With difficulty; hardly; scantly; barely; but just.
  • adv. Frugally; penuriously.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Sparing; parsimonious; niggard; niggardly; stingy.
  • Scantily supplied; poorly provided; not having much: sometimes with of.
  • Diminished; reduced from the original or the proper size or measure; deficient; short.
  • Deficient in quantity or number; insufficient for the need or demand; scant; scanty; not abundant.
  • Few in number; seldom seen; infrequent; uncommon; rare: as, scarce coins; a scarce book.
  • Characterized by scarcity, especially of provisions, or the necessaries of life.
  • Synonyms and Rare, Scarce. See rare.
  • Hardly; barely; scarcely.
  • To make less; diminish; make scant.

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

  • adj. deficient in quantity or number compared with the demand
  • adv. only a very short time before


Middle English scars, from Old French scars, from Vulgar Latin *excarpsus, narrow, cramped, from past participle of *excarpere, to pluck out, alteration of Latin excerpere, to pick out; see excerpt.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Northern Old French scars, escars ( > French échars), from Late Latin *scarsus, probably originally a participle form of *excarpere ("take out"), from Latin ex- + carpere. (Wiktionary)



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  • For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be SCARCE and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. Deuteronomy 8:7~9.

    March 9, 2011

  • In the rare book field, a scarce publication traditionally isn't as hard to find as a rare publication, but it might take a few years to locate.

    February 25, 2008