- scarse (obsolete)
From Middle English scarce, skarce, scarse, scars, from Old Northern French scars, escars ("sparing, niggard, parsimonious, miserly, poor"; > French échars, Medieval Latin scarsus (“diminished, reduced”)), of uncertain origin. One theory is that it derives originally from a Late Latin *scarpsus, *excarpsus, a participle form of *excarpere (“take out”), from Latin ex- + carpere; yet the sense evolution is difficult to trace. Compare Middle Dutch schaers (“sparing, niggard”), Middle Dutch schaers (“a pair of shears, plowshare”), scheeren (“to shear”).
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈskɛəs/
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˈskɛɚs/, /skɑːɹs/ (nonstandard)
- (dialectal) IPA(key): /ˈskeɪs/
Audio (US) (file)
- Uncommon, rare; difficult to find; insufficient to meet a demand.
- 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 3, in Mr. Pratt's Patients:
- My hopes wa'n't disappointed. I never saw clams thicker than they was along them inshore flats. I filled my dreener in no time, and then it come to me that 'twouldn't be a bad idee to get a lot more, take 'em with me to Wellmouth, and peddle 'em out. Clams was fairly scarce over that side of the bay and ought to fetch a fair price.
- Scantily supplied (with); deficient (in); used with of.
scarce (not comparable)
- (archaic, literary) Scarcely, only just.
- 1646 (indicated as 1645), John Milton, “An Epitaph on the Marchioness of Winchester”, in Poems of Mr. John Milton, […], London: […] Ruth Raworth for Humphrey Mosely, […], →OCLC, page 24:
- The Virgin quite for her requeſt / The God that ſits at marriage feaſt; / He at their invoking came / But with a ſcarce-wel-lighted flame; / And in his Garland as he ſtood, / Ye might diſcern a Cipreſs bud.
- 1726 October 28, [Jonathan Swift], “The Author Permitted to See the Grand Academy of Lagado. […]”, in Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. […] [Gulliver’s Travels], volume II, London: […] Benj[amin] Motte, […], →OCLC, part III (A Voyage to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Glubbdubdribb, Luggnagg, and Japan), page 78:
- I was at the Mathematical School, where the Maſter taught his Pupils after a Method ſcarce imaginable to us in Europe. The Propoſition and Demonſtration were fairly written on a thin Wafer, with Ink compoſed of a Cephalick Tincture. This the Student was to ſwallow upon a faſting Stomach, and for three days following eat nothing but Bread and Water. As the Wafer digeſted, the Tincture mounted to his Brain, bearing the Propoſition along with it.
- 1906 August, Alfred Noyes, “The Highwayman”, in Poems, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co., published October 1906, →OCLC, part 1, stanza VI, page 48:
- He rose upright in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand, / But she loosened her hair i' the casement! His face burnt like a brand / As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast; / And he kissed its waves in the moonlight, / (Oh, sweet, black waves in the moonlight!)
- 1931, William Faulkner, Sanctuary, Vintage, published 1993, page 122:
- Upon the barred and slitted wall the splotched shadow of the heaven tree shuddered and pulsed monstrously in scarce any wind.
- 1969, John Cleese, Monty Python's Flying Circus:
- Well, it's scarce the replacement then, is it?
- Alternative form of