Meaning of NEARLY in English

near ‧ ly S1 W1 /ˈnɪəli $ ˈnɪrli/ BrE AmE adverb

1 . especially British English almost, but not quite or not completely SYN almost :

It took nearly two hours to get here.

Michelle’s nearly twenty.

Is the job nearly finished?

Louise is nearly as tall as her mother.

I nearly always go home for lunch.

He very nearly died.

2 . not nearly not at all:

He’s not nearly as good-looking as his brother.

We’ve saved some money, but it’s not nearly enough.

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Do not use nearly before negative words like 'no', 'nothing' etc. Instead, use almost , or say hardly any , hardly anything etc:

I know almost nothing (NOT nearly nothing) about him.

There was hardly any traffic (NOT nearly no traffic).

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▪ almost not completely or not quite:

I’ve almost finished my essay.


It's almost lunchtime.

▪ nearly almost. Nearly is more commonly used in British English than American English:

I’ve been a teacher for nearly 10 years now.


It’s very nearly time to go home.

▪ not quite almost, but not yet:

‘Is he 60?’ ‘Not quite!’


It’s not quite time to go yet.


I’m not quite ready yet.

▪ practically/virtually very nearly:

The room was practically empty.

| practically all/everything/everyone etc :

The frost killed practically every plant in the garden.


Virtually everyone had gone home.

▪ more or less/just about/pretty much especially spoken very nearly – use this when saying that the difference is not important:

All the rooms are more or less the same size.


His jacket was pretty much the same colour as his trousers.


The policy will benefit just about everyone.

▪ getting on for British English informal , getting on toward especially American English informal almost a particular time, age, or period of time – used especially when you are not sure of the exact time, age etc:

It’s getting on for 10 years since we last saw each other.


‘How old’s Diane?’ ‘She must be getting on toward 50.’

▪ close to almost a particular number, amount, or time – used especially when the number or amount is surprisingly large or the time is very late:

It was close to midnight by the time we arrived.


They’ve spent close to $1.3 billion on the project.

▪ approaching/nearing almost – used when a number or amount is still increasing or a time is getting nearer:

The unemployment rate was nearing 20%.

▪ be on the verge of (doing) something to be very close to doing something:

She was on the verge of tears (=almost crying) .


I was on the verge of giving up.


They were on the verge of making a decision.

▪ be on the brink of something to be very close to an extremely bad situation:

The two countries are on the brink of war.


The company was on the brink of bankruptcy.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.