1 [rair]
adjective, rarer, rarest.
coming or occurring far apart in time; unusual; uncommon: a rare disease; His visits are rare occasions.
thinly distributed over an area; few and widely separated: Lighthouses are rare on that part of the coast.
having the component parts not closely compacted together; not dense: rare gases; lightheaded from the rare mountain air.
unusually great: a rare display of courage.
unusually excellent; admirable; fine: She showed rare tact in inviting them.

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin rārus loose, wide apart, thin, infrequent

rareness, noun

1. exceptional, extraordinary, singular. 2. sparse, infrequent. 5. choice, incomparable, inimitable.

1. common. 2. frequent. 5. inferior.
Dictionary.com Unabridged


2 [rair]
adjective, rarer, rarest.
(of meat) cooked just slightly: He likes his steak rare.

1645–55; variant of earlier rear, Middle English rere, Old English hrēr lightly boiled

rareness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
rare1 (rɛə)
1.  not widely known; not frequently used or experienced; uncommon or unusual: a rare word
2.  occurring seldom: a rare appearance
3.  not widely distributed; not generally occurring: a rare herb
4.  (of a gas, esp the atmosphere at high altitudes) having a low density; thin; rarefied
5.  uncommonly great; extreme: kind to a rare degree
6.  exhibiting uncommon excellence; superlatively good or fine: rare skill
7.  highly valued because of its uncommonness: a rare prize
[C14: from Latin rārus sparse]

rare2 (rɛə)
(of meat, esp beef) very lightly cooked
[Old English hrēr; perhaps related to hreawraw]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

"unusual," c.1420, originally "few in number and widely separated," from O.Fr. rere "sparse" (14c.), from L. rarus "thinly sown, having a loose texture," from PIE *er-, *ere- "to loose, split, separate" (cf. Skt. rte "besides, except," viralah "distant, tight, rare;" O.C.S. oriti "to dissolve, destroy;"
Lith. irti "to dissolve;" O.C.S. rediku "rare;" Gk. eremos "solitary"). "Few in number," hence, "unusual" (1542). Rarity is attested from 1560, from M.Fr. rarité (16c.), from L. raritas "thinness, fewness," from rarus. In chemistry, rare earth is from 1875.

"undercooked," 1655, variant of M.E. rere, from O.E. hrer "lightly cooked," probably related to hreran "to stir, move." Originally of eggs, not recorded in reference to meat until 1784, and according to OED, in this sense "formerly often regarded as an Americanism, although it was current in many English
dialects ...."

"rise up," 1833, dialectal variant of rear (v.). Sense of "eager" (in raring to go) first recorded 1909.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences for rarest
Neurogenic shock neurogenic shock is the rarest form of shock.
It is rich with marine resources, including the rarest sea corals in the world.
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