Definition of sparse in English:



  • 1Thinly dispersed or scattered.

    ‘areas of sparse population’
    • ‘There is nothing to warrant the supposition that the Bahamas ever had more than a very sparse aboriginal population.’
    • ‘Harmony Hills had a very sparse population; there were only a few thousand people in our community.’
    • ‘Large families and the practice of partible inheritance strained lands that under the best circumstances could only sustain sparse populations.’
    • ‘Their subsequently published journals emphasized, in particular, the remoteness and sparse populations of the two regions.’
    • ‘The version presented here is Take 1, which was made at home, just Lennon alone at the piano, without any of the sparse accompaniment that further elevated it to it's anthemic status.’
    • ‘The restaurant is large, and the sparse décor and worn-in look give it the atmosphere of a legion hall.’
    • ‘As we mentioned earlier, bluebirds prefer open rural areas with scattered trees and sparse ground cover.’
    • ‘Unfortunately their crowd at Valve was sparse - unfortunate because the always charismatic front man Jeremy ‘Jez’ Brown is a born entertainer.’
    • ‘I only use an eyebrow pencil to fill in my sparse eyebrows.’
    • ‘There is nothing but dead rocks, a few sparse patches of grass, and an occasional pair of odd looking trees.’
    • ‘A majority of the film is set in a sparse bedroom, where two unidentified strangers exchange abstract dialogue and act out a series of shocking images over a period of four nights.’
    • ‘Here the population was sparse, tiny villages and small, often isolated manors close to the riverbanks.’
    • ‘Costumes were sparse, with the only indicator of femininity for Helena and Hermia an occasional handbag.’
    • ‘If you do selective logging, or harvest sparse and scattered stands, the mobility and speed pays off.’
    • ‘The houses were big and the population sparse because they were so spread-out.’
    • ‘It wasn't that his sparse acne had miraculously dispersed into clear skin, or that he had suddenly buffed up overnight.’
    • ‘There are very few actors who could carry off this film, with its sparse dialogue and total absence of voiceover.’
    • ‘The French population of this vast region was sparse, however, reaching only 85,000 in the 1760s.’
    • ‘For the earliest inhabitants of Southern France, practising a hunter-gatherer way of life, the natural resources were abundant and more than adequate for a sparse population.’
    • ‘The homogenous and sparse population was replaced by the restless diversity, sprawl and cacophony of one of the fastest growing places in America.’
    scanty, scant, scattered, thinly distributed, scarce, infrequent, sporadic, few and far between
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    1. 1.1 Scanty; in short supply.
      ‘information on earnings is sparse’
      • ‘A surprisingly sparse paper trail offers only scattered clues on the obscure life of William Shakespeare, one of the world's most influential dramatists.’
      • ‘William Shakespeare's life is somewhat of a mystery to scholars due to the fact that most information that is known is very scattered and sparse.’
      scanty, scant, scattered, thinly distributed, scarce, infrequent, sporadic, few and far between
      View synonyms


Early 18th century (used to describe writing in the sense ‘widely spaced’): from Latin sparsus, past participle of spargere ‘scatter’.