DefinitionsSYNONYMY NOTE: meager literally implies an emaciated thinness and, hence, connotes a lack of those qualities which give something richness, vigor, strength, etc. [meager cultural resources]; , scanty implies an inadequacy in amount, number, quantity, etc. of something essential [a scanty income]; , scant is applied to a barely sufficient amount or a stinted quantity [the scant attendance at the concert]; , spare implies less than a sufficient amount but does not necessarily connote great hardship [to live on spare rations]; , sparse applies to a scanty quantity that is thinly distributed over a wide area [his sparse hair]
Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition, compiled by the
editors of Webster’s New World Dictionaries. Copyright © 2010 by Houghton
Mifflin Harcourt. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
Word origin of 'meager'ME megre < OFr megre (Fr maigre) < L macer, lean, thin < IE *makro- < base *māk-, long and thin > Gr makros, long, OE mæger, meager