Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Idioms, Encyclopedia.
Related to barely: barley water, barley


hardly; only just; almost not: She barely made it to work on time.; scantily: She’s barely clothed.; sparsely
Not to be confused with:
barley – a grain used as food and in making beer, ale, and whiskey
Abused, Confused, & Misused Words by Mary Embree Copyright © 2007, 2013 by Mary Embree


1. By a very little; hardly: could barely see the road in the fog.
2. In a scanty manner; sparsely: a barely furnished room.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. only just; scarcely: barely enough for their needs.
2. informal not quite; nearly: barely old enough.
3. scantily; poorly: barely furnished.
4. archaic openly
Usage: Since barely, hardly, and scarcely already have negative force, it is redundant to use another negative in the same clause: he had barely had (not he hadn't barely had) time to think; there was scarcely any (not scarcely no) bread left
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈbɛər li)

1. scarcely: I had barely enough money.
2. without disguise or concealment; openly.
3. scantily; meagerly.
4. Archaic. merely.
[before 950]
syn: See hardly.
usage: See hardly.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. 'bare'

Bare is an adjective. If something is bare, it is not covered or decorated with anything.

The room has bare wooden floors.

If a part of the body is bare, it has no clothing.

Meg's feet were bare.
2. 'barely'

Barely is an adverb. It has a totally different meaning from bare. You use barely to say that something is only just true or possible. For example, if you can barely do something, you can only just do it. If something is barely noticeable, you can only just notice it.

It was so dark we could barely see.
His whisper was barely audible.

Be Careful!
Don't use 'not' with barely. Don't say, for example, 'The temperature was not barely above freezing'. You say 'The temperature was barely above freezing'.

Be Careful!
If you use an auxiliary verb or modal with barely, you put the auxiliary verb or modal first. You say, for example, 'He can barely read'. Don't say 'He barely can read'.

The audience could barely hear him.

You can use barely to say that one thing happened immediately after another. For example, you can say 'We had barely started the meal when Jane arrived'.

Be Careful!
You use when or before after barely. Don't use 'than'. Don't say, for example, 'We had barely started the meal than Jane arrived'.

I had barely arrived before he led me to the interview room.
They had barely sat down when they were told to leave.
Collins COBUILD English Usage © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 2004, 2011, 2012
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adv.1.barely - only a very short time beforebarely - only a very short time before; "they could barely hear the speaker"; "we hardly knew them"; "just missed being hit"; "had scarcely rung the bell when the door flew open"; "would have scarce arrived before she would have found some excuse to leave"- W.B.Yeats
2.barely - in a sparse or scanty waybarely - in a sparse or scanty way; "a barely furnished room"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


adverb only just, just, hardly, scarcely, at a push, almost not His voice was barely audible.
completely, amply, fully, profusely
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


By a very little; almost not:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
بِالكاد، بالجُهْدلا يُكَادُ
knapknap nok
hädin tuskin
chỉ vừa đủ


[ˈbɛəlɪ] ADV
1. (= scarcely) → apenas
he can barely readapenas puede leer
he looked around him with barely concealed horrormiró a su alrededor disimulando apenas su horror
there was barely enough room for all of usapenas había sitio para todos nosotros
there was barely anyone thereallí no había casi nadie
I had barely closed the door when the phone rangapenas había cerrado la puerta cuando sonó el teléfono
2. (= scantily) a barely furnished roomuna habitación escasamente amueblada
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[ˈbɛərli] adv (= hardly) [audible, visible, perceptible, concealed] → à peine; [see, hear, notice, remember, touch, stand] → à peine
I could barely hear what she was saying → J'entendais à peine ce qu'elle disait.
He was barely breathing → Il respirait à peine.
She was barely sixteen → Elle avait à peine seize ans.
barely half → à peine la moitié
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


(= scarcely)kaum; (with figures) → knapp, kaum; we barely know himwir kennen ihn kaum; barely had he started when …kaum hatte er angefangen, als …; barely concealed horrorkaum verhohlenes Entsetzen; she was barely ten years oldsie war kaum or knapp zehn Jahre alt
furnisheddürftig, spärlich
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[ˈbɛəlɪ] advappena
they had barely enough money → avevano appena denaro a sufficienza
he was so drunk he could barely stand → era così ubriaco che riusciva a malapena a stare in piedi
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(beə) adjective
1. uncovered or naked. bare skin; bare floors.
2. empty. bare shelves.
3. of trees etc, without leaves.
4. worn thin. The carpet is a bit bare.
5. basic; essential. the bare necessities of life.
to uncover. The dog bared its teeth in anger.
ˈbarely adverb
scarcely or only just. We have barely enough food.
ˈbareness noun
ˈbareback adverb, adjective
without a saddle. I enjoy riding bareback.
ˈbarefaced adjective
openly impudent. a barefaced lie.
ˈbarefoot(ed) adjective, adverb
not wearing shoes or socks etc. The children go barefoot on the beach.
ˌbareˈheaded adjective, adverb
not wearing a hat etc.
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.


لا يُكَادُ sotva knap kaum μόλις apenas hädin tuskin à peine jedva appena かろうじて 간신히 nauwelijks såvidt zaledwie mal едва knappt เกือบไม่พอ ucu ucuna chỉ vừa đủ 几乎不能
Multilingual Translator © HarperCollins Publishers 2009
References in classic literature ?
But a very great tempest came on, and the ship being in danger of sinking, he threw all his merchandise overboard, and barely escaped with his life in the empty ship.
The machine immediately broke through the massive substructure upon which it was builded, and sank out of sight into the earth, the aeronaut springing out barely in time to save himself.
When he arrived he knocked at the door; but no one answered, and looking at his watch he found it was barely half past nine; he supposed he was too early.
She sold all her property excepting the farm of Toucques and the farm of Geffosses, the income of which barely amounted to 5,000 francs; then she left her house in Saint-Melaine, and moved into a less pretentious one which had belonged to her ancestors and stood back of the market-place.
Suitors are so distasted with delays and abuses, that plain dealing, in denying to deal in suits at first, and reporting the success barely, and in challenging no more thanks than one hath deserved, is grown not only honorable, but also gracious.
Directly opposite the mouth of the river you will see three large islands far out, so far that they are barely discernible, the one to the extreme left as you face them from the mouth of the river is Anoroc, where I rule the tribe of Anoroc."
The planet Mars, I scarcely need remind the reader, re- volves about the sun at a mean distance of 140,000,000 miles, and the light and heat it receives from the sun is barely half of that received by this world.
THE column that had butted stoutly at the obstacles in the roadway was barely out of the youth's sight before he saw dark waves of men come sweeping out of the woods and down through the fields.
Accustomed to ease, and unequal to the struggles incident to an infant society, the affluent emigrant was barely enabled to maintain his own rank by the weight of his personal superiority and acquirements; but, the moment that his head was laid in the grave, his indolent and comparatively uneducated offspring were compelled to yield precedency to the more active energies of a class whose exertions had been stimulated by necessity.
Once, during the afternoon, Binu Charley barely missed being impaled in a staked pit that undermined the trail.
It contained leaves of white paper for memoranda, and upon the first leaf was the name "Halpin Frayser." Written in red on several succeeding leaves--scrawled as if in haste and barely legible--were the following lines, which Holker read aloud, while his companion continued scanning the dim gray confines of their narrow world and hearing matter of apprehension in the drip of water from every burdened branch: "Enthralled by some mysterious spell, I stood In the lit gloom of an enchanted wood.
From even the barely hinted imputation of usurpation, and the possible consequences of such a suppressed impression gaining ground, Ahab must of course have been most anxious to protect himself.