General English

General Science


  • adjective not easily found or not common


  • Available in small supply; opposite of abundant. Usually meaningful only in relative terms, compared to demand and/or to supply at another place or time. See factor abundance, factor scarcity.

Origin & History of “scarce”

Scarce comes via Anglo-Norman scars, earlier escars, from vulgar Latin *excarpsus ‘picked out’, hence ‘rare’. this was the past participle of *excarpere, an alteration of classical Latin excerpere ‘picked out. select’ (source of English excerpt (17th c.)). And excerpere was a compound verb formed from the prefix ex- ‘out’ and carpere ‘pluck’ (source of English carpet and related to harvest).