all but; almost: nearly dead with cold.
with close approximation: a nearly perfect likeness.
with close agreement or resemblance: a plan nearly like our own.
with close kinship, interest, or connection; intimately: nearly associated in business; two women nearly related.

Origin of nearly

First recorded in 1530–40; near + -ly

Synonyms for nearly

Synonym study

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

Examples from the Web for nearly

Contemporary Examples of nearly

Historical Examples of nearly

  • They had also taken the two available guns, and nearly all the ammunition.

  • In his pocket there were nearly two hundred dollars, not likely to be of any service to him.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • I've wasted nearly three hours here now, dilly-dallying along.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • It was to be at his free disposal, and this was nearly the same thing as owning it.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • In the hands of nearly every third person was a printed paper.

British Dictionary definitions for nearly



not quite; almost; practically
not nearly nowhere near; not at allnot nearly enough money
closelythe person most nearly concerned
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 nearly

1530s, "carefully;" sense of "almost, all but" is from 1680s; see near + -ly (2).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper