How to Say “Rarely” in Other Words: A Comprehensive Guide

Do you find yourself using the word “rarely” too often and want to expand your vocabulary? In this guide, we will explore various formal and informal alternatives to the word “rarely.” Whether you’re writing an essay, email, or engaging in conversation, having a diverse range of synonyms at your disposal can greatly enhance your communication skills. Let’s dive in and discover an array of words that will help you express the concept of rarity in different ways.

Formal Alternatives to “Rarely”

When you want to convey rarity in a more formal context, consider using the following words:

  • Seldom: It implies something happening infrequently or almost never. For instance, “She seldom visits her parents.”
  • Infrequently: This term suggests something occurring at long intervals or not happening regularly. For example, “He travels infrequently due to work commitments.”
  • Sparingly: It denotes doing something with moderation or restraint, indicating a lack of regularity. For instance, “He spends money sparingly.”
  • Scarcely: This word suggests that something is in short supply or happens rarely. For example, “He scarcely attends social events.”
  • Occasionally: It implies that something only happens occasionally or once in a while. For instance, “She occasionally indulges in a piece of chocolate.”

Informal Alternatives to “Rarely”

If you’re in a more casual setting and wish to express rarity, the following informal alternatives can be helpful:

  • Hardly ever: It suggests something happens almost never or very rarely. For example, “He hardly ever gets angry.”
  • Barely: This word indicates something happens to a small extent or almost doesn’t happen at all. For instance, “She barely has time for herself.”
  • Once in a blue moon: It is an idiomatic phrase that implies a very rare occurrence. For example, “We only see each other once in a blue moon.”
  • Few and far between: This phrase suggests that something happens infrequently or with great rarity. For instance, “Opportunities like this are few and far between.”
  • Few occasions: It implies a small number of times or events. For example, “They meet on a few occasions during the year.”

Examples and Usage Tips

To better understand how to incorporate these synonyms into your everyday language, let’s explore some examples and usage tips:

Sparingly Example: “She uses her smartphone sparingly during work hours.”

Usage Tip: Utilize “sparingly” to describe someone’s behavior or actions when they exercise restraint or moderation in a specific activity.

Seldom Example: “He visits the library seldom, preferring to buy books instead.”

Usage Tip: Use “seldom” when discussing an infrequent occurrence or action that happens almost never.

Barely Example: “He barely made it to the meeting after being stuck in traffic.”

Usage Tip: Incorporate “barely” to describe a situation when something nearly did not happen at all or happened to a minimal extent.

Occasionally Example: “They occasionally go out for dinner to celebrate special occasions.”

Usage Tip: Use “occasionally” when mentioning an action or event that happens from time to time or on rare occasions.

Hardly ever Example: “She hardly ever misses her morning run.”

Usage Tip: Introduce “hardly ever” when referring to something that almost never happens or is extremely rare.

Scarcely Example: “He scarcely has any spare time due to his demanding job.”

Usage Tip: Utilize “scarcely” to indicate a lack of availability or existence of something, expressing rarity or infrequency.


Congratulations! You are now equipped with a variety of alternatives to the word “rarely” in order to diversify your vocabulary. By expanding your linguistic palette, you can effectively convey the concept of rarity in both formal and informal contexts. Remember to choose the synonym that best fits the desired tone of your communication. Whether you opt for a formal term like “seldom” or an informal phrase such as “once in a blue moon,” these alternatives will help you express rarity with precision. So go forth, embrace your newfound linguistic prowess, and make your words shine!

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