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[bair-lee] /ˈbɛər li/
only just; scarcely; no more than; almost not:
He had barely enough money to pay for the car.
without disguise or concealment; openly:
They gave the facts to him barely.
scantily; meagerly; sparsely.
Archaic. merely.
Origin of barely
before 950; Middle English; Old English bærlīce. See bare1, -ly
Can be confused
barely, hardly, scarcely (see synonym study at hardly)
Usage note
1. See hardly. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for barely
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • His action was barely conscious, but nothing could have stopped him at that moment.

    The Girl and The Bill Bannister Merwin
  • Porter had been born in New York in 1949, which made him just barely thirty-three.

    By Proxy Gordon Randall Garrett
  • Then she pushed Dils door wide open, and there was barely room for her.

    In Wild Rose Time Amanda M. Douglas
  • The navy had been able barely to preserve appearances, but that was all.

    The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte William Milligan Sloane
  • She was just reaching the maturity of womanhood, barely thirty-one, and had yet to know the meaning of love's real glory.

    The Root of Evil Thomas Dixon
British Dictionary definitions for barely


only just; scarcely: barely enough for their needs
(informal) not quite; nearly: barely old enough
scantily; poorly: barely furnished
(archaic) openly
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for barely

Old English bærlice "openly, clear, public;" see bare (adj.) + -ly (2). Meaning "only, just" is recorded from late 15c.; that of "merely, simply" is from 1570s. In 15c. it also could mean "naked."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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