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 confusedbarely hardly scarcely (see synonym study at hardly)

Usage note

1. See hardly. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for barely

almost, scarcely, hardly, just, scantily

Examples from the Web for barely

Contemporary Examples of barely

Historical Examples of barely

British Dictionary definitions for barely



only just; scarcelybarely enough for their needs
informal not quite; nearlybarely old enough
scantily; poorlybarely furnished
archaic openly


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."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper