Top 60 Slang For Lacking – Meaning & Usage

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1. Short-handed

This term is often used in sports or work settings to describe a situation where there are not enough people available to perform a task or complete a job.

  • For example, a coach might say, “We’re short-handed tonight, so we’ll have to work extra hard.”
  • In a business setting, a manager might say, “We’re short-handed this week, so everyone will need to pitch in.”
  • A person discussing their workload might say, “I’m feeling really short-handed right now with all these deadlines.”

2. Strapped

This slang term is often used to describe someone who is lacking money or experiencing financial difficulties.

  • For instance, a person might say, “I can’t go out tonight, I’m strapped for cash.”
  • In a conversation about budgeting, someone might say, “I’m really strapped right now, so I need to cut back on expenses.”
  • A person discussing their financial situation might say, “I’ve been strapped for months, it’s been tough.”

3. Scant

This term is used to describe something that is lacking or not enough in quantity or amount.

  • For example, a person might say, “We have a scant amount of food left in the fridge.”
  • In a discussion about resources, someone might say, “We have been given a scant budget for this project.”
  • A person describing their options might say, “I have only a scant few choices for dinner tonight.”

4. Deficient

This term is used to describe something that is lacking or not enough in a specific quality or ingredient.

  • For instance, a chef might say, “The dish is delicious, but it is deficient in salt.”
  • In a conversation about nutrition, someone might say, “The diet is deficient in vitamins and minerals.”
  • A person discussing their skills might say, “I feel deficient in public speaking, so I’m taking a course to improve.”

5. Insufficient

This term is used to describe something that is lacking or not enough in quantity or quality.

  • For example, a person might say, “We have insufficient evidence to support the claim.”
  • In a discussion about resources, someone might say, “The budget is insufficient to complete the project.”
  • A person describing their preparation might say, “I feel insufficiently prepared for the exam.”

6. Scarce

This term is used to describe something that is in short supply or difficult to find. It implies that the item or resource is not readily available.

  • For example, “Fresh produce was scarce during the winter months.”
  • In a discussion about rare collectibles, someone might say, “These limited-edition toys are scarce and highly sought after.”
  • A person might complain, “Job opportunities are scarce in this small town.”

7. Sparse

When something is sparse, it means there is not much of it or it is spread out thinly. This term is often used to describe a lack of density or abundance.

  • For instance, “The forest was sparse with trees.”
  • In a conversation about population, someone might comment, “The town is quite sparse, with only a few hundred residents.”
  • A person might say, “The sparse attendance at the event was disappointing.”

8. Meager

Meager refers to something that is lacking in quantity or quality. It suggests that the amount or value of something is inadequate or not enough.

  • For example, “The meal was meager, consisting of a small portion of rice.”
  • In a discussion about income, someone might say, “Many families are struggling to survive on meager wages.”
  • A person might complain, “The meager selection of products at the store was disappointing.”

9. Wanting

Wanting describes something that is lacking or deficient in some way. It suggests a need or desire for more or better quality.

  • For instance, “His performance was wanting in creativity and originality.”
  • In a conversation about education, someone might comment, “The school’s resources are wanting, hindering student learning.”
  • A person might say, “The customer service at that restaurant is seriously wanting.”

10. Dearth

Dearth refers to a scarcity or shortage of something. It implies that there is a lack or insufficiency of the item or resource.

  • For example, “There was a dearth of volunteers for the charity event.”
  • In a discussion about food supply, someone might comment, “The drought caused a dearth of crops and rising prices.”
  • A person might say, “There seems to be a dearth of opportunities in this industry.”

11. Scrimped

When someone scrimps, they are being very careful with their spending and trying to save money.

  • For example, “I had to scrimped on eating out this month to afford my vacation.”
  • A person might say, “I’m scrimping on groceries to save up for a new car.”
  • Another might mention, “I had to scrimped on buying new clothes to pay off my student loans.”

12. Bare

When something is described as bare, it means it is completely lacking or empty.

  • For instance, “The room was bare of furniture.”
  • A person might say, “I opened the fridge and it was bare. I need to go grocery shopping.”
  • Another might mention, “The store shelves were completely bare after the sale.”

13. Depleted

When something is depleted, it means it has been used up or exhausted completely.

  • For example, “The team’s energy was depleted after playing two back-to-back games.”
  • A person might say, “I feel depleted after working long hours.”
  • Another might mention, “My bank account is depleted after paying all my bills.”

14. Void

When something is void, it means it is completely empty or lacking.

  • For instance, “The room was void of any furniture.”
  • A person might say, “I feel a void in my life after my pet passed away.”
  • Another might mention, “The contract is void because both parties did not agree to the terms.”

15. Deficit

A deficit refers to a shortage or lack of something, especially money.

  • For example, “The company is facing a budget deficit.”
  • A person might say, “I can’t afford to go on vacation this year because I have a deficit in my savings.”
  • Another might mention, “The country’s deficit is causing economic instability.”

16. Inadequate

When something is inadequate, it means it is not sufficient or satisfactory. It falls short of what is expected or required.

  • For instance, if a student submits an inadequate essay, it means the essay is not well-written or lacks the necessary depth.
  • In a performance review, a supervisor might say, “Your work in this area has been inadequate and needs improvement.”
  • A disappointed customer might complain, “The service I received was inadequate, and I expect better.”

17. Scanty

Scanty refers to something that is small in quantity or insufficient in amount. It suggests a lack or scarcity of something.

  • For example, if a person’s salary is scanty, it means they earn very little money.
  • A shopper might comment, “The store had a scanty selection of clothes in my size.”
  • A reviewer might criticize a book, saying, “The author provided only scanty details, leaving the plot underdeveloped.”

18. Limited

When something is limited, it means it is restricted or confined in some way. It implies a lack of freedom or abundance.

  • For instance, if a restaurant has a limited menu, it means they offer only a small selection of dishes.
  • A person might say, “My budget is limited, so I can’t afford extravagant purchases.”
  • A job posting might state, “This position has limited growth opportunities.”

19. Impoverished

Impoverished describes a state of extreme poverty or deprivation. It suggests a lack of financial resources or basic necessities.

  • For example, a community living in impoverished conditions lacks access to clean water and adequate healthcare.
  • A news article might discuss “impoverished neighborhoods” struggling with high crime rates and limited resources.
  • A charity might aim to provide relief to impoverished families by offering food and shelter.
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20. Pinched

When someone is pinched, it means they are experiencing financial hardship or struggling to make ends meet. It implies a lack of money or resources.

  • For instance, a person might say, “I’m feeling pinched this month; I need to cut back on expenses.”
  • A parent might worry, “With rising expenses, our budget is really pinched.”
  • A friend might sympathize, saying, “I understand how it feels to be pinched financially; it can be stressful.”

21. Hard up

This slang term refers to someone who is experiencing financial difficulties or is lacking money. It implies a state of being in need or having limited resources.

  • For example, “I can’t afford to go on vacation this year, I’m hard up.”
  • Someone might say, “I’m really hard up right now, I can’t even afford to buy groceries.”
  • In a conversation about money, one might mention, “Being hard up can be really stressful and challenging.”

22. Struggling

This term describes someone who is having a hard time or facing challenges in various aspects of life, such as financially, emotionally, or physically. It implies a state of lacking or being unable to cope with certain situations.

  • For instance, “I’m struggling to find a job in this competitive market.”
  • In a discussion about personal issues, someone might say, “I’m struggling with my mental health right now.”
  • A student might mention, “I’m struggling to keep up with all my assignments and exams.”

23. Hand-to-mouth

This slang term refers to a person who is barely able to meet their basic needs, such as food and shelter, with their current income. It implies a state of lacking financial stability or security.

  • For example, “I can’t save any money because I’m living hand-to-mouth.”
  • In a conversation about budgeting, someone might say, “I’m tired of living hand-to-mouth, I want to start saving for the future.”
  • A person discussing the challenges of low-income jobs might mention, “Many people in the service industry live hand-to-mouth due to low wages.”

24. Bare-bones

This term describes something that is stripped down to its essential elements or lacking any additional features or embellishments. It implies a state of simplicity or minimalism.

  • For instance, “The apartment is furnished with just the bare-bones necessities.”
  • In a discussion about technology, someone might say, “This smartphone has a bare-bones design, but it gets the job done.”
  • A person describing a basic meal might mention, “I made a pasta dish with just the bare-bones ingredients.”

25. Threadbare

This term describes something, usually fabric or clothing, that is worn out and thin due to extensive use or age. It implies a state of lacking durability or being in poor condition.

  • For example, “My favorite sweater is threadbare, I need to buy a new one.”
  • In a conversation about furniture, someone might say, “The couch is threadbare, it’s time to replace it.”
  • A person describing an old book might mention, “The pages are yellowed and the cover is threadbare, but it’s still a cherished possession.”

26. Out of luck

This phrase is used to describe a situation where someone has no luck or is facing a lack of luck. It implies that there are no favorable outcomes or opportunities available.

  • For example, “I applied for the job, but I’m out of luck because they hired someone else.”
  • When discussing a failed attempt, one might say, “I tried to win the lottery, but I was out of luck.”
  • If someone is looking for help and no one is available, they might say, “Looks like I’m out of luck.”

27. Running on empty

This phrase is used to describe a situation where someone is lacking energy, resources, or motivation. It implies that the person has reached a point of depletion or exhaustion.

  • For instance, “After pulling an all-nighter, I’m running on empty and can’t focus.”
  • When discussing a low fuel tank in a car, one might say, “I need to find a gas station soon; I’m running on empty.”
  • If someone is mentally drained, they might say, “I’ve been dealing with so much stress lately, I feel like I’m running on empty.”

28. Down and out

This phrase is used to describe someone who is in a state of despair, defeat, or financial hardship. It implies that the person is lacking resources, support, or hope.

  • For example, “After losing his job and his home, he was down and out.”
  • When discussing a person who has hit rock bottom, one might say, “He used to be successful, but now he’s down and out.”
  • If someone is feeling hopeless, they might say, “I’ve been trying so hard, but I’m starting to feel down and out.”

29. In a bind

This phrase is used to describe someone who is in a tight spot or facing a difficult situation. It implies that the person is lacking options or facing a problem that is hard to resolve.

  • For instance, “I need to finish this project by tomorrow, but I’m in a bind because I don’t have the necessary resources.”
  • When discussing a person who is stuck between two difficult choices, one might say, “She’s in a bind and doesn’t know what to do.”
  • If someone is facing a deadline and doesn’t have enough time, they might say, “I’m in a bind and need some help.”

30. Out of pocket

This phrase is used to describe something that is not available or out of reach. It implies that the person or object is lacking and cannot be relied upon.

  • For example, “I tried to contact him, but he’s out of pocket right now.”
  • When discussing a person who is not present or reachable, one might say, “Sorry, he’s out of pocket at the moment.”
  • If someone is unable to provide assistance or support, they might say, “I wish I could help, but I’m out of pocket at the moment.”

31. Behind the eight ball

This phrase comes from the game of pool, where the “eight ball” is the last ball to be pocketed. Being “behind the eight ball” means being in a challenging or unfavorable situation.

  • For example, “I’m behind the eight ball with this project deadline.”
  • A person might say, “He’s always behind the eight ball when it comes to finances.”
  • In a sports context, someone might comment, “The team is behind the eight ball after losing their star player.”

32. Bare bones

This term refers to something that is stripped down to its most essential or basic elements. It often implies that there is a lack of additional features or embellishments.

  • For instance, “The report only provides the bare bones of the investigation.”
  • A person might say, “I’ve got the bare bones of a plan, but I need more details.”
  • In a discussion about a new product, someone might comment, “The prototype is just the bare bones, but we can add more features later.”

33. Out of ammo

This phrase is derived from the military term for running out of ammunition. It is used metaphorically to indicate that someone has exhausted all their resources, options, or arguments.

  • For example, “I’ve presented all my evidence, I’m out of ammo.”
  • A person might say, “In a debate, it’s important to anticipate counterarguments so you don’t run out of ammo.”
  • In a business context, someone might comment, “We need to come up with a new strategy, our current one is out of ammo.”

34. Out of steam

This expression is used to describe someone who has run out of energy or enthusiasm to continue doing something. It often implies a loss of momentum or drive.

  • For instance, “I’ve been working all day, I’m out of steam.”
  • A person might say, “The team started strong, but they ran out of steam in the second half.”
  • In a personal context, someone might comment, “I was excited about the project at first, but now I’m out of steam.”

35. Up the creek without a paddle

This phrase is a humorous way of describing being in a challenging or desperate situation. It implies being in a predicament without any means of escape or assistance.

  • For example, “I lost my phone and my car broke down, I’m up the creek without a paddle.”
  • A person might say, “Without any backup plans, we’ll be up the creek without a paddle if this fails.”
  • In a humorous context, someone might comment, “I forgot my umbrella, and now it’s pouring rain. I’m up the creek without a paddle.”

36. Out of sight, out of mind

This phrase means that something or someone is no longer thought about or considered because they are not visible or present.

  • For example, “I haven’t seen my old friend in years, so I guess he’s out of sight, out of mind.”
  • In a discussion about responsibilities, someone might say, “If you don’t remind me, it’s out of sight, out of mind.”
  • A person might use this phrase to explain why they didn’t complete a task, saying, “I didn’t see it on my to-do list, so it was out of sight, out of mind.”

37. Out of sorts

When someone is “out of sorts,” they are not feeling their best or are not in their usual state of mind or mood.

  • For instance, “I’m feeling a bit out of sorts today, so I might not be as productive.”
  • In a conversation about emotions, someone might say, “I’ve been feeling out of sorts lately, but I can’t pinpoint why.”
  • A person might use this phrase to explain their behavior, saying, “Sorry if I seem a bit off, I’m just feeling out of sorts.”

38. Out of the running

When someone or something is “out of the running,” they are no longer considered a contender or participant in a competition or race.

  • For example, “After losing two games, our team is out of the running for the championship.”
  • In a discussion about job applications, someone might say, “I didn’t get called for an interview, so I’m out of the running for that position.”
  • A person might use this phrase to describe their chances in a contest, saying, “With my injury, I’m definitely out of the running for first place.”

39. Out of the game

When someone is “out of the game,” they are no longer actively involved or participating in a particular activity or situation.

  • For instance, “I injured my knee, so I’m out of the game for the rest of the season.”
  • In a conversation about business ventures, someone might say, “After losing that major client, we’re out of the game for now.”
  • A person might use this phrase to explain why they can’t contribute, saying, “Sorry, I’m out of the game on this project because I have too many other commitments.”

40. Out of the question

When something is “out of the question,” it means that it is not possible or not allowed.

  • For example, “I asked my parents if I could go to the party, but they said it’s out of the question.”
  • In a discussion about budgeting, someone might say, “Buying a new car right now is out of the question for me.”
  • A person might use this phrase to express their opinion, saying, “In my opinion, raising taxes is out of the question in our current economic situation.”

41. Out of time

This phrase is used to indicate that someone has no more time left to complete a task or meet a deadline. It implies that the person is facing a time constraint and may not be able to finish what they were supposed to do.

  • For example, a student might say, “I’m out of time to finish my essay before the deadline.”
  • In a work setting, a colleague might mention, “We’re out of time to prepare for the meeting.”
  • A person planning an event might realize, “I’m out of time to send out invitations.”

42. Out of options

This expression is used when someone has exhausted all possible alternatives or solutions to a problem. It suggests that there are no more options available and the person is left with no choice but to accept the current situation.

  • For instance, someone in a difficult situation might say, “I’m out of options, I don’t know what to do.”
  • A person facing a challenging decision might admit, “I’ve considered all possibilities and I’m out of options.”
  • In a discussion about problem-solving, someone might comment, “Sometimes we’re just out of options and have to accept the outcome.”

43. Out of ideas

This phrase is used when someone has run out of inspiration or cannot come up with any more ideas. It implies a lack of creativity or mental resources to generate new concepts or solutions.

  • For example, a writer might say, “I’m out of ideas for my next article.”
  • In a brainstorming session, someone might admit, “I’m out of ideas, I can’t think of anything else.”
  • A person planning a surprise party might confess, “I’m out of ideas for a unique theme.”

44. Short on

This phrase is used to indicate that someone has a shortage or insufficient amount of something. It implies that the person lacks an adequate quantity of a particular item or resource.

  • For instance, a chef might say, “I’m short on ingredients for this recipe.”
  • In a conversation about finances, someone might mention, “I’m short on cash this month.”
  • A person organizing an event might realize, “We’re short on volunteers to help with the setup.”

45. Tight

This slang term is used to describe a situation where someone is experiencing a shortage or scarcity of something. It suggests that the person is in a challenging position due to a lack of resources or options.

  • For example, a student might say, “I’m tight on money this month, I can’t afford to go out.”
  • In a discussion about time management, someone might admit, “I’m tight on time, I have too many tasks to complete.”
  • A person trying to find a parking spot might exclaim, “It’s tight out here, there’s no available space.”

46. Lean

To not have enough of something.

  • For example, “I’m lean on cash right now, can you spot me?”
  • A person might say, “I’m lean on time, so I can’t help with that project.”
  • In a discussion about resources, someone might mention, “Our team is lean on manpower, so we need to prioritize tasks.”

47. Low on

To not have enough of something, or to be running out of it.

  • For instance, “I’m low on groceries, I need to go to the store.”
  • A person might say, “We’re low on fuel, we should stop at the next gas station.”
  • In a conversation about energy levels, someone might mention, “I’m feeling low on energy today.”

48. Paltry

To have a small or inadequate amount of something.

  • For example, “He received a paltry sum for his hard work.”
  • A person might say, “I expected a better salary, but they offered me a paltry amount.”
  • In a discussion about meal portions, someone might mention, “The serving size was paltry, I’m still hungry.”

49. Scantily

To have an insufficient or inadequate amount of something.

  • For instance, “He was dressed scantily for the cold weather.”
  • A person might say, “The report contains scantily information, we need more data.”
  • In a conversation about supplies, someone might mention, “We’re running scantily on paper, we need to order more.”

50. Light

To not have enough of something, or to have a small amount.

  • For example, “I’m light on cash, can you lend me some?”
  • A person might say, “We’re light on staff, we need to hire more people.”
  • In a discussion about workload, someone might mention, “I have a light schedule today, so I can help with that task.”

51. Running low

This phrase is used to describe when there is only a small amount left of something, indicating that it will soon be completely gone.

  • For example, “We’re running low on milk, we need to buy more.”
  • In a restaurant, a server might inform a customer, “We’re running low on fries, would you like something else?”
  • A person might say, “I’m running low on patience, I can’t deal with this anymore.”

52. Scrimping

This term refers to the act of trying to save money by reducing expenses or finding ways to spend less.

  • For instance, “I’ve been scrimping on my grocery shopping to save up for a vacation.”
  • A person might say, “I’m scrimping on eating out so I can afford a new car.”
  • Someone might mention, “I’ve been scrimping on heating to lower my utility bills.”

53. Understocked

This phrase is used to describe a situation where there is not enough of a particular item or product in stock.

  • For example, “The store is understocked on popular toys during the holiday season.”
  • A customer might complain, “I can’t believe this store is always understocked on my favorite brand.”
  • A manager might say, “We need to order more inventory, we’re understocked on essential items.”

54. Shortchanged

This term is used when someone feels they have not received the full value or amount they were expecting or entitled to.

  • For instance, “I ordered a large pizza, but they gave me a medium. I feel shortchanged.”
  • A customer might complain, “I paid for a full hour massage, but it only lasted 45 minutes. I’ve been shortchanged.”
  • Someone might say, “I worked overtime, but my paycheck was shortchanged. This isn’t fair.”

55. Destitute

This word is used to describe a state of extreme poverty or lacking any material possessions or resources.

  • For example, “After losing his job and home, he was left destitute.”
  • A person might say, “I can’t imagine being in a situation where I’m completely destitute.”
  • Someone might mention, “We need to help those who are destitute and provide them with support.”

56. Needy

This term is often used to describe someone who is lacking something, whether it be material or emotional.

  • For example, “She’s always asking for money, she’s so needy.”
  • A person might say, “I feel so needy right now, I just need someone to talk to.”
  • Another might comment, “He’s so needy for attention, it’s exhausting.”

57. Indigent

This word is typically used to describe someone who is extremely poor or lacking basic necessities.

  • For instance, “Many indigent families struggle to put food on the table.”
  • A person might say, “The government should do more to help the indigent population.”
  • Another might comment, “She grew up in an indigent neighborhood and faced many challenges.”

58. Hungry

While it can refer to a physical need for food, “hungry” can also be used in a metaphorical sense to describe someone who is lacking or desiring something.

  • For example, “I’m hungry for success, I won’t stop until I achieve my goals.”
  • A person might say, “She’s hungry for adventure, always seeking new experiences.”
  • Another might comment, “He’s hungry for knowledge, constantly reading and learning.”

59. Starved

This term is often used to emphasize a strong need or desire for something that is lacking or in short supply.

  • For instance, “I’m starved for affection, I just want someone to hold.”
  • A person might say, “She’s starved for attention, always seeking validation from others.”
  • Another might comment, “He’s starved for success, always pushing himself to achieve more.”

60. Hard-pressed

This phrase is often used to describe someone who is facing challenges or is under pressure due to lacking resources or time.

  • For example, “I’m hard-pressed for money, I can barely afford to pay my bills.”
  • A person might say, “She’s hard-pressed for time, juggling multiple responsibilities.”
  • Another might comment, “He’s hard-pressed to find a job, the market is so competitive.”