almost


almost
almost

• During the next week Morel's temper was almost unbearable —D. H. Lawrence, 1913.

Almost has a special role in diluting or ‘downgrading’ adjectives and adverbs that express an extreme, as if the user wants to keep the notion at arm's length or to allow some means of defence against a challenge; in this use the role of almost is closer to that of ‘somewhat’ than to its own normal meaning ‘nearly’. A correspondent to The Times in 2003 noted a use that was positively counter-intuitive: In response to Jack Straw's apparent condemnation of the foundation hospitals plan there was ‘an almost audible gasp’. How did he know? He knew because the gasp was almost inaudible or barely audible; almost and barely (or alternatives such as hardly or scarcely) have subtly complementary roles in avoiding uses that tip unwittingly into the absurd.

Modern English usage. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Almost — Al most ([add]l m[=o]st), adv. [AS. ealm[ae]st, [ae]lm[ae]st, quite the most, almost all; eal (OE. al) all + m?st most.] Nearly; well nigh; all but; for the greatest part. [1913 Webster] Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. Acts xxvi. 28 …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • almost — I adverb approximately, close to, nearly, on the brink of, on the verge of, scarcely, within sight of II index approximate, quasi Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • almost as — index quasi Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • almost — (adv.) O.E. eallmæst nearly all, for the most part, lit. mostly all; see ALL (Cf. all) + MOST (Cf. most). Modern form from 15c …   Etymology dictionary

  • almost — *nearly, approximately, well nigh …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • almost — [adv] nearly, very nearly about, about to, all but, approximately, around, as good as, bordering on, close to, close upon, essentially, for all practical purposes, for the greatest part, in effect, in the neighborhood of, in the vicinity of, just …   New thesaurus

  • almost — ► ADVERB ▪ very nearly. ORIGIN Old English …   English terms dictionary

  • almost — [ôl′mōst΄, ôl mōst′] adv. [OE eallmæst: see ALL & MOST] very nearly but not completely; all but …   English World dictionary

  • almost — adverb very nearly but not completely: We ve almost finished. | We stayed there for almost a week. | almost every: They sold almost everything. | almost all: Almost all the children here speak two languages. | an almost impossible task | wines… …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • almost — al|most [ ɔlmoust ] adverb *** nearly but not completely: Are you ready? Almost! I m just putting my shoes on. It s almost a year since she died. The baby s almost walking now. almost all: Almost all of the students here are from South America.… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English