I'm reading Time Machine by H. G. Wells.

And there is a sentence:

"At first I scarce thought of stopping, scarce thought of anything but these new sensations".

What does "scarce" mean in this context? Usually "scarce" means "not very much of something", but in this case .. it is like "to be scared of". Is that mistake or.. maybe it is "scarce usage of this word"?

  • 2
    Scarce is just short for scarcely, which is a negative trigger like hardly and means the same thing. He had hardly/scarcely chopped anything when the knife bent. Without the -ly, it's archaic, hence falutes higher. Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 15:34
  • And without the -ly of its larger brother, is known as a flat adverb. Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 15:39

2 Answers 2


I don't think it's a mistake as I've encountered this phrase "scarce thought of" elsewhere. Scarce = not much So I think it means: I didn't think much about(consider) stopping, I didn't think much(consider) about anything but these new sensations.


Scarce is an adverb here meaning "hardly" or "almost not at all." Oxford Dictionaries label it archaic; Merriam-Webster doesn't.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.