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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.
Contemporary Examples

Jude Law went shopping this week in a T-shirt that barely contained his huge chest.
Jude Law and the Great Male ‘He-Vage’ Crisis Tim Teeman May 19, 2014

Well, it just so happens that Upton was doing the dance in a “barely there” bikini, making it “too hot” for YouTube.
Kate Upton, Justin Bieber, and More Stars Who ‘Cat Daddy’ (VIDEO) Brittany Jones-Cooper May 1, 2012

Romney is just barely hanging on by the thinnest thread that exists.
Michael Tomasky: Romney Barely Hanging On After Alabama and Mississippi Michael Tomasky March 13, 2012

In addition to being rude, much of questioning was barely relevant to the job Hagel is being nominated to hold.
Hagel Backs Down Peter Beinart January 31, 2013

And then, in an emotionally tense few seconds, sobbing, she completes the final hang power clean, barely standing upright.
Inside the Cult of CrossFit William O’Connor May 29, 2014

Historical Examples

His action was barely conscious, but nothing could have stopped him at that moment.
The Girl and The Bill Bannister Merwin

Andrew was barely in time to save the contents of the sack from her teeth.
Way of the Lawless Max Brand

Then she pushed Dils door wide open, and there was barely room for her.
In Wild Rose Time Amanda M. Douglas

Is his pronunciation of English words any thing but barely intelligible?
Punchinello, Vol. 1, No. 7, May 14, 1870 Various

She was just reaching the maturity of womanhood, barely thirty-one, and had yet to know the meaning of love’s real glory.
The Root of Evil Thomas Dixon

only just; scarcely: barely enough for their needs
(informal) not quite; nearly: barely old enough
scantily; poorly: barely furnished
(archaic) openly

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.”


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