What is the difference between "scarce" and "rare"?

And how to say the following?

diamond is (rare, scarce)

My English teacher has said that there is a difference between the two words, later, I asked him for more explanation but I couldn't fully understand. He said that rare is to describe the valuable thing, for example --> ‘rare pearl’, and scarce for the thing being elusive and can't be easily obtained as there is not enough amount of it.

  • The first thing to do when asking a question like this is: look up the two words in a dictionary, and include what you found in your question. If you do not do that, then your question may be "put on hold" until you do. – GEdgar Mar 28 '19 at 12:35
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    Excellent question (unfortunately marred by a typo). It is not clear from the dictionary how these might be different (and they are definitely very close), but in actual usage they are not confused. But a quick look at the two dictionary definitions should show you how they are different. Rare means very infrequent; scarce means not enough for demand. They seem to imply each other (and are surely correlated) but logically I can think of situations where one is the case but the other is not. Scarcity is about demand; rarity only about frequency. Always check a dictionary first. – Mitch Mar 28 '19 at 13:05

Your teacher is somewhat right about the difference. Yet, @Mitch defines the words correctly in the comments.

  • Rare is used for something valuable, but something that is not in demand or is not necessity of people.

According to Google:

"(of a thing) not found in large numbers and so of interest or value."

For example: Diamonds are rare.

  • Scarce is used for something that is needed by people, is in high demand.

As Google describes it:

"(especially of food, money, or some other resource) insufficient for the demand."

For Example: Food became scarce in the town.

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  • 1
    Diamonds are not actually rare, but a scarcity is produced by the industry to increase the price! – user323578 Apr 30 '19 at 11:46

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