rare·​ly | \ ˈrer-lē How to pronounce rarely (audio) \

Definition of rarely

1 : not often : seldom
2 : with rare skill : excellently
3 : in an extreme or exceptional manner

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Synonyms & Antonyms for rarely


infrequently, little, seldom


frequently, oft, often, oftentimes (or ofttimes)

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Examples of rarely in a Sentence

She rarely talks about her past. Rarely do we see this kind of weather in our area. Only rarely is surgery necessary to treat this condition.
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Recent Examples on the Web

However, very rarely is sunscreen used exactly as directed. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "Does Sunscreen Expire? And Every Other Question You’ve Had About SPF, Answered," 14 May 2019 Flying coast-to-coast nonstop has rarely been cheaper. Scott Mccartney, WSJ, "Flying Coast-to-Coast Nonstop Has Rarely Been Cheaper," 8 May 2019 But the slowdown is choking independent films, which rarely get a theatrical release in China but had recently found a new source of revenue there through streaming and television deals. Julie Wernau, WSJ, "Smaller Movies Finding Big Problems in China," 3 Dec. 2018 As entire units, offensive lines rarely get their due. Theo Lawson, The Seattle Times, "Mike Leach praises freshman OL Abraham Lucas: ‘One of the best offensive linemen in the conference’," 6 Nov. 2018 Part of that is because his paintings have rarely been on view in one space—until now. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "A New Exhibit Showcases the Groundbreaking Work of Late Indigenous Artist T. C. Cannon," 5 Apr. 2019 The life of a judge is rarely the stuff of gripping biography. Barton Swaim, WSJ, "Politics: Dangers of Results-Oriented Jurisprudence," 22 Mar. 2019 And yet, not so long ago wineries in the United States rarely included grape... Lettie Teague, WSJ, "All About That Grape? There’s More to Understanding Wine," 5 Apr. 2019 Drake rarely walks a red carpet or comes within 50 miles of a runway. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Drake’s Million Dollar Outfit Is His Latest Fashion Milestone," 4 Apr. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rarely.' 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 rarely

1549, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for rarely

Last Updated

24 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for rarely

The first known use of rarely was in 1549

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More Definitions for rarely



English Language Learners Definition of rarely

: not very often


rare·​ly | \ ˈrer-lē How to pronounce rarely (audio) \

Kids Definition of rarely

: not often I rarely go.

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More from Merriam-Webster on rarely

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rarely

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rarely

Spanish Central: Translation of rarely

Nglish: Translation of rarely for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rarely for Arabic Speakers

Comments on rarely

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


a strong desire or propensity

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