From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary Englishrarerare /reə $ rer/ ●●● S3 W2 adjective (comparative rarer, superlative rarest) 1 RAREnot seen or found very often, or not happening very often OPP common → unusual This species of plant is becoming increasingly rare. I only saw Helen on the rare occasions when I went into her shop.it is rare (for somebody/something) to do something It is rare to find such an interesting group of people. It is very rare for her to miss a day at school.► see thesaurus at unusual2 DFmeat that is rare has only been cooked for a short time and is still red → underdone, well-done I like my steak rare.3 [only before noun] British English old-fashionedGOOD/EXCELLENT very good or surprising We had a rare old time at the party.THESAURUSrare not existing in large numbers or in large amountsThe law prevents the export of rare birds.The plates are quite rare. Only about a hundred were made.scarce not available in large enough numbers or amounts at a particular time – used especially about things people needAfter the war, food and clothing were scarce.People are having to compete for scarce resources.not common [not before noun] fairly rareSilver coins of this period are not common, and could be very valuable.infrequent formal not happening oftenAs time went on, her visits became more and more infrequent.be few and far between to not be common – especially much less common than you might expectLuckily, accidents such as these are few and far between.Bargains are, unfortunately, few and far between.be (something of) a rarity if something or someone is a rarity, it is surprising to find one, because very few existWomen are still something of a rarity in senior management positions.be like hen’s teeth informal to be extremely rareGood Greek restaurants are like hen’s teeth around here.
Examples from the Corpusrare• Their individuality has always made them rare, and now, perhaps, they are thinning out even more.• Black seeds are the most pungent, the most rare, and the most difficult to harvest.• A new law to prevent the export of rare birds is to be introduced.• The palace library contains some of the rarest books in Europe.• She bore her illness with rare courage.• Like Sylvia Plath s Edge, it is a rare example of the writer recording the act she is about to perform.• It is very rare for anyone to actually die from bee stings in this country.• Shannon suffers from a rare form of cancer.• It is a state of exaltation of the individual, a great and rare gift of a great and rare invigorating dream.• He had that rare gift of being able to impart enthusiasm to others.• Huston is a film-maker who has achieved a rare kind of beauty in his work.• In a rare moment of vanity, Carl removed his glasses.• With Stephen, for example, there were only rare moments when she would come face to face with his desperate position.• This may well be one of those rare occasions when light aircraft pilots have the opportunity to shape something that affects them.• On the rare occasions when we had to work hard, we enjoyed it.• They're pretty rare. Only about a hundred were made.• Second, he has the rare quality of inner toughness and great compassion.• Snow is a rare sight here, except on the mountains.• The Duchess of Beaufort is also mentioned as having additional rare sorts in her garden at Badminton.• Tim collects rare stamps.• In Cholon's narrow streets, Europeans were far rarer than on the boulevards of Saigon.rare occasions• You will only want to do this on rare occasions.• He had not cried except on rare occasions of enormous sorrow in all the years thereafter.• On rare occasions one even sings, but haltingly.• So on the rare occasions they did report themselves in a State of Readiness they knew an Agile Blade was likely.• On rare occasions, they preach.• And on rare occasions, we may actually experience something of that sort.• Perfect excuse on the mercifully rare occasions when he hinted, showed any interest.• This may well be one of those rare occasions when light aircraft pilots have the opportunity to shape something that affects them.rare old• I gave the man a rare old race round.• There's a rare old ruck before the police arrive.• I knew I was taking some rare old stick mentally, though.Origin rare 1. (1400-1500) Latin rarus2. (1600-1700) rear “lightly cooked” ((15-19 centuries)), from Old English hrer