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See more synonyms for barely on Thesaurus.com
  1. only just; scarcely; no more than; almost not: He had barely enough money to pay for the car.
  2. without disguise or concealment; openly: They gave the facts to him barely.
  3. scantily; meagerly; sparsely.
  4. Archaic. merely.
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Origin of barely

before 950; Middle English; Old English bærlīce. See bare1, -ly
Can be confusedbarely hardly scarcely (see synonym study at hardly)

Usage note

1. See hardly.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for barely


  1. only just; scarcelybarely enough for their needs
  2. informal not quite; nearlybarely old enough
  3. scantily; poorlybarely furnished
  4. archaic openly
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See hardly
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

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."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper