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[rair-lee] /ˈrɛər li/
on rare occasions; infrequently; seldom:
I'm rarely late for appointments.
exceptionally; in an unusual degree.
unusually or remarkably well; excellent.
Origin of rarely
1515-25; rare1 + -ly Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for rarely
  • Criminal defendants rarely face jury trials, because they have.
  • If they could only get visas, which are rarely granted, tourists would flock to its beaches and nearby game parks.
  • Because gorillas rarely use tools, many scientists thought the great apes were less sharp than chimpanzees.
  • rarely are the weaker players even on the master level.
  • Since higher ed rarely seeks efficiencies, they are unusual.
  • The price of stir-frying and dressing a salad has rarely been higher.
  • The resulting footage has shed light on rarely seen mating behavior, captured on film perhaps for the first time.
  • Brain scans and other types of neurological evidence are rarely a factor in trials today.
  • It has rarely been seen, and the occasion of this exhibition is the needed rebinding of the book.
  • Geek guys rarely go, unless they are the comic relief.
British Dictionary definitions for rarely


hardly ever; seldom: I'm rarely in town these days
to an unusual degree; exceptionally
(dialect) uncommonly well; excellently: he did rarely at market yesterday
Usage note
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
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Word Origin and History for rarely

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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