bare·​ly | \ ˈber-lē How to pronounce barely (audio) \

Definition of barely

1 : in a meager manner : plainly a barely furnished room
2 : scarcely, hardly barely enough money for lunch

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Examples of barely in a Sentence

We barely spoke the entire time we were in the car. There are barely any new features in this software. There is barely a difference between the two.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The model matched her neon green barely-there bikini to her jet ski, which was the same nuclear shade. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Kendall Jenner Has an Extreme Fashion Take on the Latest Social Media Challenge," 9 July 2019 Just two years earlier, Metz had barely known how to use a computer, but now, her pink-polished fingernails moved easy across the keys. Casey Parks, USA Today, "'You don't know what you did for me': Released from prison by Obama, now on the dean's list," 8 July 2019 Instead a series of red, blue, pink and orange lights (barely) illuminated Grande, who spent the evening running around in the colorful, but dim, shadows. Ross Raihala, Twin Cities, "Ariana Grande plays her finest local gig to date, but the crowd couldn’t see her," 8 July 2019 And then, late Wednesday, a twist: A count of paper ballots that had not been totaled on primary night pushed Melinda Katz — the Queens borough president and establishment favorite — ahead, by the barely there margin of 20 votes. Vivian Wang, New York Times, "The Shocking Final Count in the Queens D.A. Race: What Happened," 4 July 2019 At five months, you and this guy still barely know each other. Carolyn Hax, The Mercury News, "Carolyn Hax: He cooked me a great dinner, but where was my birthday card?," 28 June 2019 At five months, you and this guy still barely know each other. Carolyn Hax, Detroit Free Press, "No birthday gift from boyfriend disappoints her," 28 June 2019 The two barely knew each other, having met for the first time a week earlier. Ben Kesslen, NBC News, "California man shoots 10-month-old girl in head after her mother rejects him, police say," 25 June 2019 Pair with some colorful, barely-there sandals and a mini bag that pops. Glamour, "How to Dress Up Your Favorite Graphic T-shirts," 18 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'barely.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of barely

circa 1513, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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Statistics for barely

Last Updated

12 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for barely

The first known use of barely was circa 1513

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More Definitions for barely


bare·​ly | \ ˈber-lē\

Kids Definition of barely

1 : almost not The old man's voice was barely audible now.— Ellen Raskin, The Westing Game
2 : with nothing to spare : by a narrow margin I'd barely enough to eat. She barely passed the test.

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More from Merriam-Webster on barely

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with barely

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for barely

Spanish Central: Translation of barely

Nglish: Translation of barely for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of barely for Arabic Speakers

Comments on barely

What made you want to look up barely? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to form ideas or theories about something

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