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 Many British companies, having already been battered by uncertainty over Brexit, can scarcely afford new trade barriers that threaten to snarl supply chains and make their products and services more expensive. Charles Riley, CNN, "Britain needs a big trade deal with Europe and wants one with America. It may end 2020 with neither," 31 Jan. 2020 Entrepreneurs accustomed to achieving double-digit returns would scarcely notice a modest wealth tax. The Economist, "Wealth taxes have moved up the political agenda," 3 Oct. 2019 The holiday will be presided over by a President who scarcely seems to comprehend King’s principles. The New Yorker, "Sunday Reading: The Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.," 19 Jan. 2020 Yet at the ski areas, there seemed scarcely a thought over Friday’s catastrophe. Tom Stienstra,, "Avalanche danger rated ‘considerable’ in Tahoe back country," 19 Jan. 2020 Having slumped by about 25% after the initial crashes, Boeing’s share price has since scarcely moved. Natasha Frost, Quartz, "The 1997 merger that paved the way for the Boeing 737 Max crisis," 3 Jan. 2020 These characterizations created by these exceptional actresses could scarcely be more different. Todd Mccarthy, The Hollywood Reporter, "Golden Globes Film: Who Should Win, Who Will Win," 2 Jan. 2020 That even an economy as mighty as China’s can scarcely catch up should give pause for reflection about the possibilities for innovation elsewhere. The Economist, "Chinese technology With the state’s help, Chinese technology is booming," 27 Dec. 2019 What wind blew here Sunday scarcely seemed to merit the designation. Martin Weil, Washington Post, "For now, all is calm on the D.C.-area weather front," 23 Dec. 2019

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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Time Traveler for scarcely

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for scarcely

Last Updated

10 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Scarcely.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for scarcely


How to pronounce scarcely (audio)

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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