verb (used with object), spared, sparing.
to refrain from harming or destroying; leave uninjured; forbear to punish, hurt, or destroy: to spare one's enemy.
to deal gently or leniently with; show consideration for: His harsh criticism spared no one.
to save from strain, discomfort, embarrassment, or the like, or from a particular cause of it: to spare him the bother; to spare her needless embarrassment.
to refrain from, forbear, omit, or withhold, as action or speech: Spare us the gory details.
to refrain from employing, as some instrument or recourse: to spare the rod.
to set aside for a particular purpose: to spare land for a garden.
to give or lend, as from a supply, especially without inconvenience or loss: Can you spare a cup of sugar? Can you spare me a dollar till payday?
to dispense with or do without: We can't spare a single worker during the rush hour.
to use economically or frugally; refrain from using up or wasting: A walnut sundae, and don't spare the whipped cream!
to have remaining as excess or surplus: We can make the curtains and have a yard to spare.
verb (used without object), spared, sparing.
to use economy; be frugal.
to refrain from inflicting injury or punishment; exercise lenience or mercy.
Obsolete. to refrain from action; forbear.
adjective, sparer, sparest.
kept in reserve, as for possible use: a spare part.
being in excess of present need; free for other use: spare time.
frugally restricted or meager, as a manner of living or a diet: a spare regime.
lean or thin, as a person.
scanty or scant, as in amount or fullness.
sparing, economical, or temperate, as persons.
a spare thing, part, etc., as an extra tire for emergency use.
Ceramics. an area at the top of a plaster mold for holding excess slip.
the knocking down of all the pins with two bowls.
a score so made. Compare strike ( def 69 ).

before 900; (v.) Middle English sparen, Old English sparian; cognate with Dutch, German sparen, Old Norse spara; (noun and adj.) Middle English; compare Old English spær sparing, frugal (cognate with Old High German spar, Old Norse sparr

spareable, adjective
sparely, adverb
spareness, noun
sparer, noun
unspared, adjective

6. reserve. 14, 15. extra. 17. See thin. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
spare (spɛə)
1.  (tr) to refrain from killing, punishing, harming, or injuring
2.  (tr) to release or relieve, as from pain, suffering, etc
3.  (tr) to refrain from using: spare the rod, spoil the child
4.  (tr) to be able to afford or give: I can't spare the time
5.  (usually passive) (esp of Providence) to allow to survive: I'll see you again next year if we are spared
6.  rare (intr) to act or live frugally
7.  rare (intr) to show mercy
8.  not spare oneself to exert oneself to the full
9.  to spare more than is required: two minutes to spare
10.  (often immediately postpositive) in excess of what is needed; additional: are there any seats spare?
11.  able to be used when needed: a spare part
12.  (of a person) thin and lean
13.  scanty or meagre
14.  slang (Brit) (postpositive) upset, angry, or distracted (esp in the phrase go spare)
15.  a duplicate kept as a replacement in case of damage or loss
16.  a spare tyre
17.  tenpin bowling
 a.  the act of knocking down all the pins with the two bowls of a single frame
 b.  Compare strike the score thus made
[Old English sparian to refrain from injuring; related to Old Norse spara, Old High German sparōn]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. sparian "to refrain from harming, to allow to go free," from the source of O.E. spær "sparing, frugal," from P.Gmc. *sparaz (cf. O.Fris. sparia, O.N. spara, O.H.G. sparon "to spare"). Meaning "to dispense from one's own stock" is recorded from early 13c. The adj. meaning "additional, extra"
is attested from c.1300. In ref. to time, from 1610; sense of "flimsy, thin" is recorded from 1540s. Spare part is attested from 1888. The noun meaning "extra thing or part" is from 1640s. Bowling sense of "a knocking down of all pins in two bowls" is attested from 1849, Amer.Eng.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idioms beginning with spare, also see to spare.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
In his spare time he volunteered as a reserve police officer for the city.
Whatever you do, please spare us the righteous indignation in the comments.
Managing operations such as replenishing stock or delivering spare parts can be
  outsourced too.
The money was hidden in a spare tire attached underneath the truck.
Idioms & Phrases
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