1. By a small margin; barely: We scarcely made it in time.
2. Almost not; hardly: We scarcely ever used the reserve generator.
3. Certainly not: They could scarcely complain after such good treatment.
Usage Note: Scarcely has the force of a negative and is therefore regarded as incorrectly used with another negative, as in I couldn't scarcely believe it. · A clause following scarcely is properly introduced by when or before; the use of than is usually changed by copyeditors: The meeting had scarcely begun when (or before but not than) it was interrupted. See Usage Notes at double negative, hardly.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.