Definition of nearly adverb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



BrE BrE//ˈnɪəli//
; NAmE NAmE//ˈnɪrli//
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  • almost; not quite; not completely The bottle's nearly empty. I've worked here for nearly two years. It's nearly time to leave. The audience was nearly all men. He's nearly as tall as you are. They're nearly always late. She very nearly died. Which Word?almost / nearly / practicallyThese three words have similar meanings and are used frequently with the following words: almost certainly/​all/​every/​entirely/​impossible/​empty nearly (numbers)/all/​always/​every/​finished/​died practically all/​every/​no/​nothing/​impossible/​anything They are used in positive sentences:She almost/​nearly/​practically missed her train. They can be used before words like all, every and everybody:Nearly all the students have bikes. I’ve got practically every CD they’ve made. Practically is used more in spoken than in written English. Nearly is the most common with numbers:There were nearly 200 people at the meeting. They can also be used in negative sentences but it is more common to make a positive sentence with only just:We only just got there in time. (or:We almost/​nearly didn’t get there in time.) Almost and practically can be used before words like any, anybody, anything, etc:I’ll eat almost anything. You can also use them before no, nobody, never, etc. but it is much more common to use hardly or scarcely with any, anybody, ever, etc:She’s hardly ever in (or:She’s almost never in). Almost can be used when you are saying that one thing is similar to another:The boat looked almost like a toy. In British English you can use very and so before nearly:He was very nearly caught.
  • Extra examples He’s nearly as tall as you are. I’ve got almost/​nearly every CD they’ve made. I’ve worked here for nearly two years. It’s nearly time to leave. She almost/​nearly missed her train. The bottle’s nearly empty. There were nearly 200 people at the meeting. They’re nearly always late.Idioms  much less than; not at all It's not nearly as hot as last year. There isn't nearly enough time to get there now.
    pretty much/well (British English also pretty nearly) (North American English also pretty near)
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    (informal) almost; almost completely One dog looks pretty much like another to me. He goes out pretty well every night. The first stage is pretty near finished.
    See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: nearly

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