Meaning of scarce in English:


Pronunciation /skɛːs/

See synonyms for scarce

Translate scarce into Spanish


  • 1(especially of food, money, or some other resource) insufficient for the demand.

    ‘as raw materials became scarce, synthetics were developed’
    • ‘This was compounded by a growing competition for scarce food resources.’
    • ‘They saw their families and communities through difficult times, when money was scarce and the demands of rural life were very demanding.’
    • ‘This may be so fundamental to the business that diverting scarce resources and money into longer-term plans would be wrong.’
    • ‘Food was scarce and money flooded off the presses. 476 million rubles were printed in April, one billion in July.’
    • ‘I must eat until sated: Early humans lived in an environment in which food resources were scarce.’
    • ‘Coastal land resources are scarce because of high demand and low supply.’
    • ‘This will be too demanding on the scarce land resource to make the population feel comfortable.’
    • ‘Attractive though the technique appears, we must demand more from such an expensive and still scarce resource.’
    • ‘Public money is involved, by definition a scarce resource that has many competing claims to its use.’
    • ‘Difficult choices must be made in the allocation of scarce resources between current and capital expenditure.’
    • ‘In critical care, networks have been used to increase efficiency and responsiveness by combining scarce resources to iron out the effect of variations in demand.’
    • ‘I start from the basic supposition that economics is the study of allocating scarce resources and not simply the study of money.’
    • ‘We look at cost structure, how you're spending money, how you prioritize scarce resources.’
    • ‘Even Sarah, who was seven, understood that money was tight and food was scarce.’
    • ‘Black market trading in scarce food and petrol puts inflation closer to 700%.’
    • ‘Ordinary people, after all, just want to get along with their lives, with the routine and mundane task of eking out a living out of scarce resources.’
    • ‘This can often mean fighting for scarce resources, particularly when the demands on these resources come from the normal operational demands of the business.’
    • ‘First, it would not require each country to expend scarce resources to build its own defenses against every air and missile threat.’
    • ‘Even impoverished Southerners snubbed peanuts until food was scarce.’
    • ‘They are used to increase public health and conserve scarce resources.’
    in short supply, short, scant, scanty, meagre, sparse, hard to find, hard to come by, not enough, too little, insufficient, deficient, inadequate, lacking, wanting
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    1. 1.1Occurring in small numbers or quantities; rare.
      ‘the freshwater shrimp becomes scarce in soft water’
      • ‘Tatum rabbet planes are scarce to rare and this was a nice example.’
      • ‘They were the secret of that period of time. They are still fairly rare, fairly scarce.’
      • ‘In some ways it can be considered as a miniature flora of an area, highlighting the locally rare and scarce species.’
      • ‘Volunteers are scarce if not downright uncooperative.’
      • ‘Places for under fives are getting scarce in the area.’
      • ‘These actions have been carried out openly, but opposition within Canada has been scarce or nonexistent.’
      • ‘It is this lack that has made archeological finds scarce and precious, finds like the one Dan made.’
      • ‘Places for elderly residents in Bolton are becoming scarce because of the closures over the past few years.’
      • ‘The report says the common skate is so scarce recent surveys to assess their status failed to find a single one.’
      • ‘It's thrilling; moments like this are scarce in smug, self-satisfied hip-hop.’
      • ‘However, the two of them have always agreed that Luke has little to offer the world and therefore choose to ignore his scarce and rarely expressed opinions.’
      • ‘Uncluttered surface areas are scarce real estate anywhere in my house, especially the kitchen.’
      • ‘Other flowers present that are now scarce in Suffolk include spiny restharrow and the yellow flowered sulphur clover.’
      rare, few and far between, thin on the ground, seldom found, seldom seen
      View synonyms


  • Scarcely.

    ‘a babe scarce two years old’
    • ‘In recent years, the beleaguered couple have been scarce on the social scene.’
    • ‘I went to the bucket but there was scarce any left.’
    • ‘At that moment the beast-man charged the Kshatriya; Viro scarce had time to roll.’


    make oneself scarce
    • Leave a place, especially so as to avoid a difficult situation.

      • ‘I could see he was annoyed so I made myself scarce’
      • ‘‘It was an empty building and a small piece of glass,’ said PC Lewis, who expected the majority of people in the same situation would have made themselves scarce.’
      • ‘Shelley and Thomas however, had made themselves scarce and gone to clear up the kitchen.’
      • ‘The boy had made himself scarce in the past week, obviously avoiding the messengers for the day.’
      • ‘Truth be told, continental Europeans have been making themselves scarce during times of crisis for more than two generations.’
      • ‘And the 25-year-old miner who found it is, if not exactly in hiding, certainly making himself scarce.’
      • ‘I think you'd better make yourself scarce for the day.’
      • ‘There's no need to worry about the invasion of privacy, as the crewmembers are usually very experienced in knowing when to make themselves scarce or when you may need an explanation of some of the surrounding beauty and sites.’
      • ‘Bears are solitary creatures, and with the encroaching populations of humans descending upon their habitat, they will most likely make themselves scarce once they hear all those weird noises.’
      • ‘Having supervisors that make themselves scarce or won't back me up when they are around are just things I have to live with.’
      • ‘The fifth character is divorced, single mother Sue, invited by Beverley because her 15-year-old daughter Abigail is having her own bash and mum needs to make herself scarce.’


Middle English (in the sense ‘restricted in quantity or size’, also ‘parsimonious’): from a shortening of Anglo-Norman escars, from a Romance word meaning ‘plucked out, selected’.