scarce·​ly | \ˈskers-lē \

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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

At the airport, Mooney could scarcely recognize his friend. New York Times, "The Wounds of the Drone Warrior," 13 June 2018 Outside of Nationals fans, prospect nuts and Boone himself (more on that in a second), scarcely a soul had heard of Soto before a rash of outfield injuries summoned him to Washington for his major league debut on May 20. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "Yankees-Nationals: Juan Soto rips go-ahead homer in game he started in minor leagues," 18 June 2018 The Senna is the latest salvo in the hypercar wars, delivering the latest set of scarcely believable, once-unthinkable telemetry: 0-62 mph acceleration in 2.7 seconds; ¼-mile of 9.9 seconds; 0-187 mph in 17.5 seconds; top speed 211 mph. Dan Neil, WSJ, "2019 McLaren Senna: A Pet Racecar for Billionaires," 31 May 2018 But one voice is still scarcely heard: that of individual owners whose shares are held in funds and pension schemes. The Economist, "The proxy-voting season kicks off on Wall Street," 12 Apr. 2018 Local authorities tended to look the other way when one of the youngsters, whose face could scarcely be seen over the steering wheel, was dispatched via pickup to the feed or farm supply store. James C. Cobb, Smithsonian, "The Pickup Truck’s Transformation From Humble Workhorse to Fancy Toy," 3 July 2018 America spends more than 3% of the world’s biggest GDP on its armed forces, and the rest of the Western world scarcely breaks 2%. Tony Abbott, WSJ, "An Ally Sizes Up Donald Trump," 13 July 2018 Scott has written op-eds and posted numerous times on Twitter about the faults of the Cuba deal, but has scarcely mentioned North Korea as President Donald Trump moved to meet with its dictator, Kim Jong Un, this year. Gray Rohrer,, "Rick Scott, vocal Cuba deal critic, mostly mum on North Korea deal," 12 June 2018 Hernandez scarcely mentions his Mets years at all, writing instead of his struggle to establish himself as an everyday big leaguer. Steve Rushin,, "Keith Hernandez, Lou Piniella Focus on Humanity, Not Glory, in New Memoirs," 16 May 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.

See More

First Known Use of scarcely

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about scarcely

Statistics for scarcely

Last Updated

3 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for scarcely

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


obstinately defiant of authority

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Syn City

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!