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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for rarely


infrequently, little, seldom


frequently, oft, often, oftentimes (or ofttimes)

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Girl groups have rarely done so, despite K-pop's skyrocketing popularity in the U.S., making this even more monumental. Devon Abelman, Allure, "Red Velvet Members Share Their Biggest Skin-Care Secrets," 7 Mar. 2019 Beyoncé’s repertoire is often called upon by newlyweds looking for a first dance song, but rarely does the superstar herself deign to take on the role of wedding singer. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Beyoncé’s Performance Style at Isha Ambani’s Wedding Was a Celebration of Indian Couture," 10 Dec. 2018 Very rarely does the IUD make its way out of the uterus on its own. Jessica Shepherd, SELF, "An Ob/Gyn Explains if You Actually Need to Check Your IUD Strings," 8 Sep. 2018 Ben was never seen and rarely heard of again after the 8th season of the show, leaving some to believe that Ross lost custody of his son. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "“Riverdale”’s Cole Sprouse Has a Crazy Theory About the Disappearance of His “Friends” Character," 19 Feb. 2019 Mailboxes are located on docks, and the delivery person drives a 15-foot Alumacraft boat that rarely comes to a complete stop. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "12 Geeky Ways to Deliver Mail: U.S. Postal Service Technology Through the Ages," 18 Jan. 2019 And as anyone who's ever watched HGTV knows, a build rarely comes in under budget. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Frogmore Cottage Renovations Sound Expensive," 27 Nov. 2018 But flexibility rarely comes up, as Brand points out in his book, in the fevered brouhaha of building and architectural consumption. Kate Wagner, Curbed, "Building houses that grow with us," 14 Nov. 2018 One where science is often a black student’s favorite class because race rarely comes up. Keith Bierygolick, Cincinnati.com, "Black students in Mason: I didn’t want to come to school after Trump was elected," 5 July 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of rarely

1549, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about rarely

Statistics for rarely

Last Updated

15 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for rarely

The first known use of rarely was in 1549

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


to corrupt or become corrupted

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A Green Quiz

  • shamrock
  • What is the best definition of green-eyed monster?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!