meager

meager, scanty, scant, skimpy, scrimpy, exiguous, spare, sparse are comparable when they mean so small (as in amount, number, or size) as to fall short of what is normal, necessary, or desirable.
Meager stresses thinness: as applied to persons or animals, it suggests emaciation (meager were his looks, sharp misery had worn him to the bones— Shak.) but as applied to things in general, it implies the absence of elements, qualities, or numbers necessary to a thing's richness, substance, or potency
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a meager diet

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an outline in itself is meager, truly, but it does not necessarily suggest a meager thing— James

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his austere and meager life bred too little sen- suousness of nature and too few intellectual passions— Parrington

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meager appropriations which necessitated the most rigorous economies— Pahlow

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Scanty emphasizes insufficiency in amount, quantity, or extent
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a scanty supply of food for the winter

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the book . . . is not, like some biographical essays with scanty material, stuffed out with appreciation and conjecture— T. S. Eliot

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such a scanty portion of light was admitted . . . that it was difficult, on first coming in, to see anything— Dickens

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Scant may differ from scanty in suggesting a falling or a cutting short (as in amount or quantity) of what is desired or desirable rather than in what is necessary or essential
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the work of those hours was miserably scantHardy

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they were held in scant esteem— Grandgent

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Skimpy and the less common scrimpy as applied to things may be quite interchangeable with meager
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sufficiently recovered from her cold to climb out of bed and into a skimpy, strapless blue gown— Capote

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a reasonably thoughtful appraisal of the new Russian leader, based on such skimpy evidence as is now available— Uhl

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four acres is scrimpy measure for a royal garden, even for a king of the heroic ages, whose daughter did the family washing— Notes & Queries

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but often they are more strongly colored by the related verbs, skimp and scrimp, and then usually suggest niggardliness or penury as the cause of the deficiency
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prevents skimpy construction that often leads to airfield shutdowns and aircraft accidents— Livingston

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European art books commonly come out with hundreds of huge, magnificent color plates. American art books, especially those produced by commercial publishers, are often skimpy, starved and inadequate by comparison— Frankenstein

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more proud of their breeding than they were of the scrimpy, almost stingy respectability of the ménage— White

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Exiguous stresses a smallness in size, amount, extent, or capacity that is more or less inherent in the thing under consideration and makes it compare unfavorably with other things of its kind
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brains too exiguous to hold more than half an idea at a time— Amer. Speech

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building ships to supplement his exiguous navy— Buchan

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a much larger dominion than the exiguous Dalriada— Times Lit. Sup.

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Spare (see also LEAN, SUPERFLUOUS) implies merely a falling short of what is easily or fully sufficient; unlike scanty and meager, it seldom suggests resulting loss or hardship
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a spare diet

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spare, alert, and jaunty figure— Wolfe

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the journals ... are by no means always spare and laconic— Dulles

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Sparse stresses a lack of normal or desirable thickness or density; the term need not suggest insuf-ficiency or inadequacy in numbers or in quantity, but it always connotes a thin scattering of the units
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the sparse population of the mountainous district

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facing the facts of her defeat and her poverty and by encouraging sparse, stringent living— Anthony West

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a sparse congregation of old women scattered over the church— Bruce Marshall

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Analogous words: *thin, slender, slim, slight, tenuous, rare: thinned, attenuated, extenuated, diluted (see THIN vb): jejune, flat, *insipid, inane: penurious, *stingy, parsimonious
Antonyms: ample: copious

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Meager — Mea ger, Meagre Mea gre, a. [OE. merge, F. maigre, L. macer; akin to D. & G. mager, Icel. magr, and prob. to Gr. makro s long. Cf. {Emaciate}, {Maigre}.] [1913 Webster] 1. Destitue of, or having little, flesh; lean. [1913 Webster] Meager were his …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Meager — or Meagre (see American and British English spelling differences) can refer to: Meagre set (also meager set) in mathematics Mount Meager (also Mount Meagre, Mount Meagher) in British Columbia, Canada Meager Creek, a creek in British Columbia,… …   Wikipedia

  • meager — [mē′gər] adj. [ME megre < OFr megre (Fr maigre) < L macer, lean, thin < IE * makro < base * māk , long and thin > Gr makros, long, OE mæger, meager] 1. thin; lean; emaciated 2. of poor quality or small amount; not full or rich;… …   English World dictionary

  • meager — [adj1] small, inadequate; poor bare, barren, deficient, exiguous, flimsy, inappreciable, inconsiderable, infertile, insubstantial, insufficient, little, mere, minimum, miserable, paltry, puny, scant, scanty, scrimp, scrimpy, shabby, short, skimp …   New thesaurus

  • Meager — Mea ger, Meagre Mea gre, v. t. To make lean. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • meager — index de minimus, deficient, inappreciable, inconsiderable, insufficient, marginal, mediocre, minimal …   Law dictionary

  • meager — (adj.) late 14c. (late 12c. as a surname), lean, thin, emaciated (of persons or animals), from O.Fr. megre, maigre thin (12c.), from L. macrum (nom. macer) lean, thin (source of Sp., Port., It. magro), from PIE *makro (see MACRO (Cf. macro )). Of …   Etymology dictionary

  • meager — or meagre adjective Etymology: Middle English megre, from Anglo French megre, meigre, from Latin macr , macer lean; akin to Old English mæger lean, Greek makros long Date: 14th century 1. having little flesh ; thin 2. a. lacking desirable… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • meager — meagerly, adv. meagerness, n. /mee geuhr/, adj. 1. deficient in quantity or quality; lacking fullness or richness; scanty; inadequate: a meager salary; meager fare; a meager harvest. 2. having little flesh; lean; thin: a body meager with hunger.… …   Universalium

  • meager — adjective 1) their meager earnings Syn: inadequate, scanty, scant, paltry, limited, restricted, modest, insufficient, sparse, deficient, negligible, skimpy, slender, poor, miserable, pitiful, puny …   Thesaurus of popular words


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