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

[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.]

scarce′ness n.


1. rarely encountered
2. insufficient to meet the demand
3. make oneself scarce informal to go away, esp suddenly
archaic or literary scarcely
[C13: from Old Norman French scars, from Vulgar Latin excarpsus (unattested) plucked out, from Latin excerpere to select; see excerpt]
ˈscarceness n



adj. scarc•er, scarc•est,
adv. adj.
1. insufficient to satisfy the need or demand.
2. rarely encountered.
3. scarcely.
make oneself scarce,
a. to leave, esp. quickly.
b. to stay away.
[1250–1300; Middle English scars < Old North French (e)scars < Vulgar Latin *excarpsus plucked out, for Latin excerptus; see excerpt]
scarce′ness, n.



Both scarce and scarcely are fairly formal words. They have completely different meanings.

1. 'scarce'

Scarce is an adjective. If something is scarce, very little of it is available.

Good quality land is scarce.
The desert is a place where water is scarce.
2. 'rare'

Don't use 'scarce' to say that something is not common, and is therefore interesting. Use rare.

This flower is so rare that few botanists have ever seen it.
Deepak's hobby is collecting rare books.
3. 'scarcely'

Scarcely is an adverb that means the same as 'hardly'. If something is scarcely true, it is almost not true. If something scarcely exists, it almost does not exist.

The smell was so bad I could scarcely bear it.
The woman was scarcely able to walk.

Be Careful!
Don't use 'not' with scarcely. Don't say, for example, 'I do not scarcely have enough money to live'. Say 'I scarcely have enough money to live'.

If you use an auxiliary verb or modal with scarcely, put the auxiliary verb or modal first. Say, for example, 'I could scarcely stand'. Don't say 'I scarcely could stand'.

I can scarcely remember what we ate.
He could scarcely be blamed for his reaction.

Scarcely is sometimes used to emphasize that one thing happened immediately after another.

We had scarcely arrived when it was time to leave again.

Be Careful!
Use when, not 'than', in sentences like these. Don't say, for example, 'We had scarcely arrived than it was time to leave again'.

In literary writing, scarcely is sometimes put at the beginning of a sentence, followed by had or the verb be and the subject.

Scarcely had she put down the receiver when the phone rang again.
Scarcely were the words spoken when he began to regret them.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adj.1.scarce - deficient in quantity or number compared with the demand; "fresh vegetables were scarce during the drought"
meager, meagerly, meagre, scrimpy, stingy - deficient in amount or quality or extent; "meager resources"; "meager fare"
abundant - present in great quantity; "an abundant supply of water"
Adv.1.scarce - only a very short time beforescarce - only a very short time before; "they could barely hear the speaker"; "we hardly knew them"; "just missed being hit"; "had scarcely rung the bell when the door flew open"; "would have scarce arrived before she would have found some excuse to leave"- W.B.Yeats


2. rare, few, unusual, uncommon, few and far between, infrequent, thin on the ground, seldom met with I'm unemployed, so luxuries are scarce.
rare common, numerous, frequent, commonplace


1. Not enough to meet a demand or requirement:
2. Rarely occurring or appearing:
By a very little; almost not:
قَلِيلنادِر، غَيْر مُتَوَفِّر
sjaldgæfur; af skornum skammti
khan hiếm


A. ADJ (scarcer (compar) (scarcest (superl))) [reserves, resources] → escaso
to be scarce [doctors, food, resources] → escasear; [money] → escasear, faltar
jobs were very scarce in those daysen aquella época escaseaban los puestos de trabajo
paintings of this quality are scarceno abundan los cuadros de esta calidad
to grow or become scarcevolverse escaso, escasear
to make o.s. scarcelargarse, esfumarse
B. ADV (o.f.) = scarcely


[ˈskɛərs] adj
(= uncommon) → rare, peu abondant(e)
Jobs are scarce these days
BUT Il y a peu de travail ces temps-ci.
scarce resources → des ressources limitées
to make o.s. scarce → s'éclipser


adj (+er) (= in short supply)knapp; (= rare)selten; jobsrar; to make oneself scarce (inf)verschwinden (inf), → abhauen (inf)
adv (old) = scarcely


[skɛəs] adj (-r (comp) (-st (superl))) (money, food, resources) → scarso/a; (copy, edition) → raro/a
to be scarce → scarseggiare
to grow or become scarce → diventare raro/a
to make o.s. scarce (fig) (fam) → squagliarsela


(skeəs) adjective
not many or enough in number. Paintings by this artist are very scarce; Food is scarce because of the drought.
ˈscarcely adverb
1. only just; not quite. Speak louder please – I can scarcely hear you; scarcely enough money to live on.
2. used to suggest that something is unreasonable. You can scarcely expect me to work when I'm ill.
ˈscarcity noun
(a) lack or shortage. a scarcity of work/jobs; times of scarcity.
make oneself scarce
to run away or stay away, especially in order to avoid trouble. As soon as the police arrived, he made himself scarce.


قَلِيل nedostatkový utilstrækkelig knapp λιγοστός exiguo riittämätön rare rijedak scarso 不足して 모자라는 schaars knapp rzadki escasso редкий sällsynt ไม่ค่อยพบ kıt khan hiếm 稀少的
References in classic literature ?
One evening in July, when the transient guests who made the New Willard House their temporary home had become scarce, and the hallways, lighted only by kerosene lamps turned low, were plunged in gloom, Elizabeth Willard had an adventure.
I guess rabbits must be getting scarce in this locality.
This necessary article was scarce, and dear; and the inhabitants lived chiefly on the flesh of buffaloes.
However, a good laugh is a mighty good thing, and rather too scarce a good thing; the more's the pity.
He was a little frisky; though as yet his body seemed scarce yet recovered from that irksome position it had so lately occupied in the maternal reticule; where, tail to head, and all ready for the final spring, the unborn whale lies bent like a Tartar's bow.
There are little children here, scarce in their teens, who can hardly see the top of the work benches--whose parents have lied to get them their places--and who do not make the half of three hundred dollars a year, and perhaps not even the third of it.
Shelby, who, with a little womanly complacency in match-making, felt pleased to unite her handsome favorite with one of her own class who seemed in every way suited to her; and so they were married in her mistress' great parlor, and her mistress herself adorned the bride's beautiful hair with orange-blossoms, and threw over it the bridal veil, which certainly could scarce have rested on a fairer head; and there was no lack of white gloves, and cake and wine,--of admiring guests to praise the bride's beauty, and her mistress' indulgence and liberality.
It's that fickle-tempered, dissipated young goose--poor devil, he find friends pretty scarce today, likely, after the disgrace of carrying a personal assault case into a law-court.
A very little boy stood up and sheepishly recited, "You'd scarce expect one of my age to speak in public on the stage," etc.
Fortunately books were scarce, or the children might sometimes have gone ragged and hungry.
Scarce a sentence escaped him but that was commenced or concluded by some hor- rid oath.
I have scarce had the pleasure of seeing you, Miss Woodhouse," she shortly afterwards began, "since the party to Box Hill.