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See more synonyms for rarely on Thesaurus.com
  1. on rare occasions; infrequently; seldom: I'm rarely late for appointments.
  2. exceptionally; in an unusual degree.
  3. unusually or remarkably well; excellent.
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Origin of rarely

First recorded in 1515–25; rare1 + -ly
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for rarely

seldom, barely, hardly, infrequently, extra, extraordinarily, extremely, little, notably, singularly, uncommon, uncommonly, unusually, remarkably, finely

Examples from the Web for rarely

Contemporary Examples of rarely

Historical Examples of rarely

  • In this affair real meanings are rarely conveyed except by silences.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • They were kind-hearted and rarely did anything that was cruel.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • Rarely has there been exhibited so complete a combination of qualities in statesmanship.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • This was an unusual event, as he rarely interfered with them during play hours.

    Life in London

    Edwin Hodder

  • Found all too rarely, he is never shelved, for the reason that life cannot do without him.

British Dictionary definitions for rarely


  1. hardly ever; seldomI'm rarely in town these days
  2. to an unusual degree; exceptionally
  3. dialect uncommonly well; excellentlyhe did rarely at market yesterday
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Since rarely means hardly ever, one should not say something rarely ever happens
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 rarely


1550s, from rare (adj.1) + -ly (2). "Seldom, not often;" also "finely, excellently."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper