Basic+ Word of the Day: spare

spare (verb, adjective) past tense: spared LISTEN

The spare tire is on the back of the car.

To spare is to not hurt or punish someone.

  • The queen spared the condemned man and freed him from prison.

To spare can also mean ‘to not give or tell something to someone.’

  • Spare me the details. I only want the basic facts.

Spare can mean ‘something kept in reserve for later use.’

  • When her car ran over broken glass, Jessica used her spare tire.
  • You can stay in our spare bedroom when you are in town.

To spare also means ‘to give or lend something without inconvenience.’

  • Can you spare $20 until payday?

Listen to Bing Crosby sing “Brother Can You Spare a Dime?” This 1931 hit was considered the anthem of the Great Depression. A dime is a 10 cent piece in the US.

Don't confuse it with

Spar means ‘to practice boxing, wrestling, or martial arts.’

Did you know?

The expression, ‘an heir and a spare’ refers to a royal family that has two children. The oldest child is the heir and will become king or queen. The second child is the spare or extra in case something happens to the oldest. Although the spelling of the two words (heir/spare) is very different, they rhyme.

In pop culture

This song, “More Than Just a Spare” was originally Anna’s opening song in the animated film, Frozen. Anna obviously knows the expression, ‘an heir and a spare.’

There are other meanings of spare.

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Word of the Day is released Monday through Friday.

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