AskDefine | Define scarcely

Dictionary Definition

scarcely adv
1 by a small margin; "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 [syn: barely, hardly, just, scarce]
2 almost not; "he hardly ever goes fishing"; "he was hardly more than sixteen years old"; "they scarcely ever used the emergency generator" [syn: hardly]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • (UK) /ˈskɛəsli/
  • (US) /ˈskɛɹsli/
  • Hyphenation: scarce·ly


  1. In a scarce manner; hardly; not much or at all.
  • Baltasar Gracian.(Philosopher)
Nature scarcely ever gives us the very best; for that we must have recourse to art.

Usage notes

It is grammatically a negative word. It therefore collocates with ever rather than never.
  • Compare We scarcely ever eat fish. with We almost never eat fish.


in a scarce manner
  • Dutch: amper, nauwelijks
  • Finnish: tuskin, vaivoin
  • Latin: vix
  • Portuguese: dificilmente
  • Spanish: difícilmente, apenas

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

a bit, a little, at infrequent intervals, barely, by a hair, by an ace, by no means, ever so little, exiguously, extremely, faintly, fairly, feebly, hardly, hardly ever, here and there, imperfectly, in a measure, in a way, in no way, in places, in some measure, in spots, inappreciably, inconsequentially, infrequently, insignificantly, just a bit, kind of, lightly, little, meagerly, minimally, minutely, negligibly, not at all, not hardly, not often, not quite, noway, nowise, on no account, only just, piddlingly, pretty, quite, rarely, rather, scantily, scarce, scarcely ever, scrimpily, seldom, skimpily, slightly, somewhat, sort of, sparsely, sparsim, spottily, stingily, tant soit peu, to a degree, to some extent, triflingly, uncommonly, under no circumstances, unfrequently, unoften, very, very seldom, weakly
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