scarce

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English[edit]

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Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

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 also Middle Dutch schaers (sparing, niggard), Middle Dutch schaers (a pair of shears, plowshare), scheeren (to shear).

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

scarce (comparative scarcer, superlative scarcest)

  1. Uncommon, rare; difficult to find; insufficient to meet a demand.
    • 1691, [John Locke], Some Considerations of the Consequences of the Lowering of Interest, and Raising the Value of Money. [], London: [] Awnsham and John Churchill, [], published 1692, OCLC 933799310:
      You tell him silver is scarcer now in England, and therefore risen in value one fifth.
    • 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.
  2. (archaic) Scantily supplied (with); deficient (in); used with of.

Synonyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Adverb[edit]

scarce (not comparable)

  1. (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 606951673, 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.
    • 1845 February, — Quarles [pseudonym; Edgar Allan Poe], “The Raven”, in The American Review[1], volume I, number II, New York, N.Y.; London: Wiley & Putnam, [], OCLC 1015246566, page 144:
      And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door, / That I scarce was sure I heard you []
    • 1898, J. Meade Falkner, Moonfleet Chapter 4:
      Yet had I scarce set foot in the passage when I stopped, remembering how once already this same evening I had played the coward, and run home scared with my own fears.
    • 1906 August, Alfred Noyes, “The Highwayman”, in Poems, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co., published October 1906, OCLC 28569419, 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 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?

Anagrams[edit]


Middle English[edit]

Noun[edit]

scarce

  1. Alternative form of sarse