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

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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

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 For climate change activists, the courtroom is one of the few remaining options for enacting policies to limit greenhouse gases, as the White House scarcely acknowledges climate change and Congress remains deadlocked. Umair Irfan, Vox, "The Supreme Court just allowed a major climate lawsuit to go ahead," 3 Nov. 2018 If design is Helsinki’s national religion, Alvar Aalto is its patron saint: There’s scarcely a public building or neighborhood restaurant that doesn’t pay homage to him in some way. Erin Florio, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why Helsinki Should Be Your Next City Break in Europe," 2 Sep. 2018 Bench, Rose, infielders Joe Morgan and Tony Pérez—could scarcely have been more different in background, playing style and personality. Jon Wertheim,, "Johnny Bench Is Already a Hall-of-Famer, But He's Looking For a New Distinction," 5 July 2018 The title might well refer to the thin, meager outlines of a screenplay that can scarcely contain him. Justin Chang,, "'Boundaries' takes the road all too quirkily traveled," 21 June 2018 But in Moldova, where the weather was good, producers can scarcely contain their excitement at how well things are going. The Economist, "Noroc (cheers) for Moldovan wine," 28 Mar. 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

15 Dec 2018

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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

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having a pattern of small flowers

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