Scarcely means just before, hardly, or “almost not.” If you had scarcely made it to bed when the sun started to rise, you are probably pretty tired by now.

Scarcely may have just made it in the nick of time and by the skin of its teeth, but it’s here now, even if it is just barely hanging on —- which means you can scarcely accuse it of not showing up. Though an ly adverb, scarcely is unusual in that it is not so much a descriptor of its root adjective as a synonym of the adverb form scarce. If you scarcely believe me, look it up for yourself!

Definitions of scarcely
  1. adverb
    only a very short time before
    “had scarcely rung the bell when the door flew open”
    synonyms: barely, hardly, just, scarce
  2. adverb
    almost not
    “they scarcely ever used the emergency generator”
    synonyms: hardly
Word Family