sparse (adj.)

1727, from Latin sparsus "scattered," past participle of spargere "to scatter, spread, shower," from Proto-Italic *sparg-, from PIE *sp(e)rg- "to strew," extended form of root *sper- "to spread, sow" (source also of Hittite išpar- "to spread out, strew;" Greek speirein "to strew, to sow," spora "a scattering, sowing," sperma "sperm, seed," literally "that which is scattered"). The word is found earlier in English as a verb, "to scatter abroad" (16c.). Related: Sparsely; sparseness.

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