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This is really funny! I've been searching about this for a while now. I think it should be a very frequent word that I can instantly recognize upon hearing but no words come to my mind. Let's say there is a park which is very crowded on the weekends and not so much on workdays. How would you describe the park in those days that not too many people go?

How would you fill the sentence "The park is [blank] today!"?

My problem with "less crowded" is that it's not really the actual word but rather we're trying to convey the meaning by using its antonym. It's like calling a well-lit place "not dark." It is true but there is already a direct word for that meaning. Upon searching I found some other words that could fill the blank like "secluded" or "solitude." But I feel like "secluded" is a place that is always empty of people. Not a place that is less crowded from time to time. You cannot say the park is secluded today! That sounds ridiculous to me! There are also words like "vacant" that seem like overkill. I guess there are no people (or maybe a handful of people) in a vacant place.

I have a unique word for this in my own native language and when somebody asked me for its equivalence in English, I really couldn't figure it out.

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3 Answers 3

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There is no solo words contextfree'ly conveying “less crowded” or “anti- crowded”; closest in this literal sense simply of “non crowded” restricted to a singular word [w/c]ould/might “uncrowded” be considered.

However, there are several words that come close in a connotative or extended (trending toward idiomatic) sense, chief among which is "quiet" (more directly opposite to "busy"), "deserted" or "empty" (meaning "completely vacant", more opposite "full") or "nearly deserted" (meaning "close to vacant", taken via context in more a relativistic sense than necessarily literal) or simply 'more than' version of "empty", namely "emptier".

The optimal single-word option to convey "much fewer people present than typical, though not necessarily zero besides self" is probably in most contexts “quiet”:

2 a : marked by little or no motion or activity : calm

followed by "emptier" as inferred by its default positive (zeroth-step) form 'empty':

1 b : not occupied or inhabited

i.e.

less-occupied/inhabited than usual

, both of which have been used with regularity in this extended semi-idiomatic sense, particularly “quiet” when ‘calmness’ i.e. non-noisiness (compared to the norm) is the deviation. Otoh, “emptier” is slightly more neutral, but closer to "non-crowded" which lacks a positively favorable connotation. If the relative lack of people is perceived as not-good, then “empt[ier/y]” might be a better choice.

That said, there are of course more than a couple multi-word and re-wording options, optimality depending on your intended usage. Chiefly among the latter I oft find myself describing some setting simply as “less crowded than usual”, “saw uncommonly few people for this time of day/week”; or there being “hardly anybody there” or “scarcely anyone present”. The reason for my pairing ‘[some]body’ with “hardly” and ‘[..]one’ with “scarcely” is subtle but real: Consider the idiom "Make youself present." —it isn't "Make your body present."—your actual “being” is closer bound to the ‘one’ness of you yourself, i.e. your personhood with all that entails, as contrasted with ‘being’ness connoting more a mere physical'ly-occupying aspect.

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  • Thanks for your thorough answer. It also includes most of the points that were mentioned in the comments to the main question. Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 7:56
  • Thankye. Aye, some of the directioning was helped by other commenters.
    – 11qq00
    Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 19:55
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If you are talking about a space which is occupied only by people (at least in the context in which you are discussing it) you can say "emptier", for instance "The theatre is emptier tonight than it was on Saturday". However this has other meanings as well such as "My glass is emptier than I thought" so it's not exactly what you're looking for.

You can also say "less busy" as in "The market is less busy than it was yesterday" but that is also two words (although we can say "busier" whereas we can't say "crowdedier")

I assume from your question that there is such a word in your language but there isn't one in English. That's one of the pleasures of studying languages, not all concepts which have dedicated names in your native language have them in others and sometimes another language can have a name for a concept which doesn't exist in your own.

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Sparse: "small in numbers or amount, often spread over a large area"

The park is sparse today

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    I think you would need to say "sparsely attended."
    – cruthers
    Commented Sep 7, 2021 at 18:28
  • @cruthers Indeed, to retain semantic consistency (conveying a sense of low-density, of *people*) another word needs affixed to it.
    – 11qq00
    Commented Sep 7, 2021 at 18:30
  • I think you can say 'the park is sparser today'. That's what I came up with!
    – Jelila
    Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 2:52

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