Use the word "scarce" when something is not easy to find, there’s not much of it, or it’s rare.

  • Water and food were both scarce in the aftermath of the storm.
  • Scarce food supplies often result in rioting.
  • Some species of animals are becoming scarce on our planet because of human development.
  • Bill is very busy these days. Extra time to spend with his family is scarce.
  • Skiers tried to go skiing despite a scarce amount of snow.
  • As their supply of ammunition became scarce, Union soldiers had no other choice but to surrender.

scarceHe scarcely had any ammunition, so he couldn’t defend himself.

You can make "scarce" into an adverb by adding an "ly" ending. The meaning of "scarcely" is similar to "hardly."

  • There’s scarcely any gas left in her car.
  • Gina scarcely spoke a word following the meeting because she was so ashamed of her poor presentation.
  • We scarcely made our flight to Chicago.
  • The little boy scarcely ate any of his vegetables during dinner.

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This page was first published on November 2, 2012. It was updated on December 26, 2015.