scarce·​ly | \ ˈskers-lē How to pronounce scarcely (audio) \

Definition of scarcely

1a : by a narrow margin : only just had scarcely rung the bell when the door flew open— Agnes S. Turnbull
b : almost not could scarcely see for the fog
2a : certainly not could scarcely interfere
b : probably not there could scarcely have been found a leader better equipped— V. L. Parrington

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Examples of scarcely in a Sentence

He could scarcely control his joy. Scarcely a day goes by when they don't see or talk to each other. He had scarcely enough money. This is scarcely a time to laugh. I could scarcely tell them they were wrong.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Back in Stefanik's office, the proverbial political elephant in the room, of course, is President Trump, whose name was scarcely mentioned at the E-PAC kickoff event in January. Rebecca Gale, Marie Claire, "Elise Stefanik Is Going to Bring Women Back to the GOP," 25 Mar. 2019 The actresses have scarcely been seen since the Desperate Housewives star was arrested and the Fuller House actress turned herself in to authorities and posted $1 million bail last month. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman May Finally Break Their Silence in Court Tomorrow," 2 Apr. 2019 Their face-to-face meetings at campaign forums and before the Bee's editorial board were equally tense, the grim-faced pair scarcely looking at each other or shaking hands. Darrell Smith, sacbee, "Sacramento DA Schubert takes commanding lead in early returns after contentious campaign," 5 June 2018 By 2000, because of widespread vaccination, the virus was declared eliminated in the United States: Enough people were immunized that outbreaks were uncommon, and deaths from measles were scarcely heard of. Julia Belluz, Vox, "New York’s Orthodox Jewish community is battling measles outbreaks. Vaccine deniers are to blame.," 9 Nov. 2018 Our present condition is scarcely different, Lippmann implies. Sean Illing, Vox, "Intellectuals have said democracy is failing for a century. They were wrong.," 20 Dec. 2018 Over the following years, exports expanded at a scarcely imaginable annual rate of 30% and by the end of the decade accounted for nearly a quarter of global trade. Edward Chancellor, WSJ, "‘Red Flags’ Review: Trade War and Other Troubles," 9 Dec. 2018 Underneath the shield, the instruments will scarcely feel the sun's heat. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Why the Sun-Studying Parker Space Probe Won't Melt," 20 July 2018 Graff diamonds, known for its flawless or near-flawless yellow, pink, blue and white diamonds, reopened on June 20 with scarcely a whisper. Carolyne Zinko,, "Graff jeweler reopens with a whisper for hush-hush clients in SF," 20 June 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Statistics for scarcely

Last Updated

21 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for scarcely

The first known use of scarcely was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for scarcely



English Language Learners Definition of scarcely

: almost not at all
: by only a small amount of time, space, etc.
: certainly not


scarce·​ly | \ ˈskers-lē\

Kids Definition of scarcely

1 : only just : barely They had scarcely enough to eat.
2 : certainly not I could scarcely tell him he was wrong.

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More from Merriam-Webster on scarcely

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for scarcely

Spanish Central: Translation of scarcely

Nglish: Translation of scarcely for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of scarcely for Arabic Speakers

Comments on scarcely

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


to affect and impair by alcohol or a drug

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