January 26, 2018
scarce ()
\SKAIRSS\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: lacking in quantity or number : not plentiful
How do you use it?
"Half a century ago, something strange and horrible had happened there, something that the older inhabitants of the village still liked to discuss when topics for gossip were scarce." (J.K. Rowling, _Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire_)
Are you a word wiz?

Uh-oh! We forgot to give you the part of speech for today's Buzzword. Based on our example sentence, what part of speech do you think "scarce" is?

D's the right one this time. "Scarce" is an adjective because it describes or modifies a noun; in the sentence above, "scarce" modifies "book covers." "Scarce" can also be an adverb, as in "They had scarce arrived when it got dark." Most adverbs end in "-ly," and the adverb "scarce" is actually a less common form of the earlier adverb "scarcely," which also fits in our sentence illustrating "scarce" as an adverb. The adjective "scarce" and adverb "scarcely" both came into English in the 14th century and trace back to the Latin verb "excerpere," meaning "to pluck out."
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