rare·​ly | \ˈrer-lē \

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

But diets based in eliminating and/or restricting foods and food groups rarely lead to longterm, sustained change. SELF, "Why This Registered Dietitian Tells (Some of) Her Patients to Avoid Kale Salads," 30 Nov. 2018 The truth is that spiders rarely bite us, and nearly all of the reports are actually infections due to resistant Staphylococcus bacteria (MRSA), misdiagnosed by patients and doctors alike. Rob Dunn, Discover Magazine, "Our Attempts to Eradicate Insects are Just Making them Resistant to Pesticides," 16 Nov. 2018 Zuckerberg has been asked that question a lot over the past year, but Facebook rarely seems to fire anybody, even when there are clear and significant screw ups. Kurt Wagner, Recode, "Who does Facebook fire after a bombshell New York Times investigation?," 15 Nov. 2018 Keep in mind that there is rarely one simple explanation for an airline accident; most are the result of a chain of events. Barbara Peterson, Condé Nast Traveler, "The FAA, Boeing Issue Alerts for 737 Max 8 Planes After Lion Air Crash," 9 Nov. 2018 Back in May 2017, when Meghan and Harry's relationship was rarely photographed, the Suits actress put in an appearance at the Audi Polo Challenge at Ascot’s Coworth Park, to support her then-boyfriend. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle Recycles an Old Dress from One of Her Earliest Appearances with Prince Harry," 30 Oct. 2018 To All the Boys was praised for featuring an Asian-American female in a lead role, something that is rarely seen, especially in a rom com. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Lara Jean Covey from “To All the Boys I've Loved Before” is Bringing Asian-American Representation to Halloween," 29 Oct. 2018 To my curls, they're essentially just hyped-up conditioners that, yes, hydrate my hair, but are rarely anything to write home about. Chloe Metzger, Marie Claire, "The 5 Truly Excellent Beauty Products I'm Loving This Week," 24 Oct. 2018 The blurbs are rarely extensive, definitely not as long nor detailed as the database entries in older Assassin’s Creed games. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "Assassin's Creed: Odyssey's hidden Historical Locations map is stuffed with Ancient Greek lore," 11 Oct. 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.

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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

6 Dec 2018

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 \

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 soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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