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[spahrs] /spɑrs/
adjective, sparser, sparsest.
thinly scattered or distributed:
a sparse population.
not thick or dense; thin:
sparse hair.
scanty; meager.
Origin of sparse
1715-25; < Latin sparsus, past participle of spargere to scatter, sparge
Related forms
sparsely, adverb
sparseness, sparsity
[spahr-si-tee] /ˈspɑr sɪ ti/ (Show IPA),
unsparse, adjective
unsparsely, adverb
unsparseness, noun
1–3. See scanty.
1–3. abundant. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for sparsely
  • It was quite a shabby little town with narrow and crooked streets, poorly paved and sparsely lighted.
  • No-shows mean sparsely attended sessions and dispirited panels.
  • The big reserves are mainly in remote and sparsely populated areas.
  • Narrowly heart-shaped, sparsely hairy, mint gre more add to my plant list.
  • More than a hundred people in the sparsely settled area reported seeing it.
  • It has the mood of the final act of a tired, long-playing and sparsely attended opera.
  • Conference sessions on nonacademic careers are sparsely attended.
  • Such stars as are visible in a halo are sparsely but uniformly scattered throughout it.
  • May bloom sparsely or sporadically in warm-winter areas.
  • Across the sparsely populated prairie, radio signals connect people in far-flung communities to one another and the world outside.
British Dictionary definitions for sparsely


scattered or scanty; not dense
Derived Forms
sparsely, adverb
sparseness, sparsity, noun
Word Origin
C18: from Latin sparsus, from spargere to scatter
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for sparsely



1727, from Latin sparsus "scattered," past participle of spargere "to scatter, spread," from PIE root *(s)pregh- "to jerk, scatter" (cf. Sanskrit parjanya- "rain, rain god," Avestan fra-sparega "branch, twig," literally "that which is jerked off a tree," Old Norse freknur "freckles," Swedish dialectal sprygg "brisk, active," Lithuanian sprogti "shoot, bud," Old Irish arg "a drop").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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