- 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 also Middle Dutch schaers (“sparing, niggard”), Middle Dutch schaers (“a pair of shears, plowshare”), scheeren (“to shear”).
- 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.
- (archaic) Scantily supplied (with); deficient (in); used with of.
scarce (not comparable)
- (now literary, archaic) Scarcely, only just.
- 1645, John Milton, An Epitaph on the marchioness of Winchester:
- With a scarce well-lighted flame.
- 1854, Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven:
- And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door, That I scarce was sure that 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, Alfred Noyes, The Highwayman:
- 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, p. 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