Meager vs Meagre – Definition & Examples

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

What is the definition of meager? How do the words meager and meagre differ? Explanations about the meaning of meager are very meager on the internet. (See what I did there?)

These two words are often confused in most forms of writing. I know I’ve had to Google the difference a time or two.

Keep reading as I explain the answers to these questions. I’ve even provided examples of how to use meager in a sentence when you’re writing.

Meager Meaning in English

Meager is the adjective meaning lacking in quantity or quality. This word usually describes something already available or provided. Some synonyms for meager include paltry, restricted, modest, and inadequate.

The adjective has a second definition, which is lean or thin. For instance, many runway models are tall and meager. Some synonyms include thin, skinny, scrawny, and scraggly.

Is Meager and Meagre the Same?

One might ask, what is the alternate spelling for meager? Meagre is the alternate spelling for meager with the same definition. It also means lacking in quantity or quality or lean.

Meager vs meagre english ngram

Meager is more commonly used than meagre in different pieces of writing. Although, to me, the Ngram shows a change in both versions that makes me think that usage is changing. It’s definitely the preferred spelling in American English. Meanwhile, British English prefers the spelling meagre. Notice its similarity with the words theatre and centre.

Meager vs meagre british english ngram
Meager vs Meagre trend in British English.
Meager vs meagre american english ngram
Meager vs Meagre trend in American English.

Meagre Pronunciation

Meagre is pronounced the same way as meager. Its pronunciation is /ˈmiː.ɡər/ or me-gur and not me-grey or me-greh. The word rhymes with the words centre, theatre, and timbre.

How Do You Spell Meagre in Canada?

Both meager and meagre are used in Canadian literature. However, meagre is the preferred spelling in Canadian English. Personally, when I’m writing, I try and adapt an American spelling system because that’s what most readers have come to expect.

How Do You Spell Meagre in America?

The American spelling is meager. Remember that -er is common in American words, while -re is more prevalent in British terms.

What is the Verb Form of Meager?

A less common function of the word meager is a transitive verb that means to make lean. Its simple present form is meagers, while its past form is meagered. The present participle form is meagering.

How Do You Use Meagre in a Sentence?

Here are some examples of the word meagre in a sentence.

  • Paula thanked the server anyway for her meager half-lunch.
  • Your savings are too meager for a new car. Perhaps you should make this decision in the next six months.
  • My father was a tall, meager man.
  • The musician’s meager supply of coins was enough to ride the train on the way home.
  • We cannot properly prepare for the tests because the teacher mentioned meager details about the exam’s coverage.
  • Our text messages have become meager because we were busy with school.

Meager vs. Meagre Summary

I hope this article has clarified your questions about the definition and examples of meager and meagre. These words come from different English variants but have the same meaning: lacking in quality or quantity or thin.

Use meager if you are writing for an American audience. But if you are writing for British and Canadian readers, the appropriate spelling is meagre.