"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[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. 2015.
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Examples from the web for barely
  • Jacobs barely makes contact with another player during the sequence.
  • When the going gets tough, some people barely notice.
  • Often barely three feet wide and half that deep, the lowly acequia is a hand-dug, lovingly maintained ditch.
  • Mega-large, barely portable computers continue to trickle onto the market.
  • barely one in six ninth-graders make it to an undergraduate degree.
  • Tales of unsuspecting travelers who barely made it home.
  • She stood barely more than a meter tall and had a brain the size of a chimpanzee's.
  • It's barely sunrise, but the alleys are already in chaos.
  • Imagine a stylus barely longer than the first knuckle of your thumb.
  • Children, barely at the stage of walking, were not spared forced labor or punishment.
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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