Barely Made It: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
September 10, 2023

The expression "barely made it" conveys a close call or the narrow achievement of a task or outcome, often against challenging odds. It illustrates situations where success or survival was almost compromised but was achieved in the end. We often find ourselves in situations where we narrowly achieve something or are on the edge of missing out. The idiom "barely made it" perfectly encapsulates this sentiment.

In short:

  • "Barely made it" refers to narrowly achieving or avoiding something.

What Does "Barely Made It" Mean?

The phrase "barely made it" describes a situation where someone has just managed to achieve or avoid something, often by a very narrow margin. It conveys a sense of relief and the realization of how close one came to a different outcome.

Let's dive into its core meanings and usage:

  • It indicates a narrow escape or close call.
  • It often describes situations where there was almost a failure, but success was ultimately achieved.
  • It can be used in both positive and negative contexts.

Though this phrase primarily carries the above meanings, it's crucial to consider the context in which it's used for a comprehensive understanding.

Where Does "Barely Made It" Come From?

While the exact origin of the phrase "barely made it" is unclear, it's easy to see how it came into use. The word "barely" means "only just" or "almost not," which perfectly fits the idiom's sense of narrowly succeeding.

Historical books and letters from the 19th century occasionally use the phrase, showing its long-standing presence in the English language.

10 Examples of "Barely Made It" in Sentences

Here are some examples that demonstrate the versatility of this idiom:

  • We barely made it to the train station on time.
  • With a severe time crunch at work today, I barely made it to my daughter's recital.
  • It's been a long day. We barely made it through all the meetings without dozing off.
  • I barely made it through the movie without falling asleep.
  • They barely made it out of the building before it caught fire.
  • I barely made it out of that situation; indeed, it was by the grace of God.
  • I barely made it to the train station on time. When I discovered the last ticket was mine, I thought, "What are the odds?"
  • You barely made it! We were about to leave without you.
  • We've faced many challenges in life, and though we've barely made it through some, we always persevere.
  • He barely made it to the top 10 in the competition.

Examples of "Barely Made It" in Pop Culture

Over time, this idiom has found its way into movies, songs, and literature:

  • In the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indiana Jones barely made it when escaping from a booby trap.
  • The song "Almost Paradise" by Mike Reno and Ann Wilson touches upon the theme of lovers who barely make it through obstacles.
  • In the novel "The Maze Runner," the protagonist barely makes it out of the maze alive.

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say "Barely Made It"

There are numerous ways to convey the same sentiment as "barely made it."

Here are some alternatives:

  • Just about managed
  • Nearly missed it
  • Came close to failing
  • Narrowly succeeded

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Barely Made It":

  • What does "barely made it" mean?

It refers to narrowly achieving or avoiding something.

  • When did the idiom first come into use?

While its exact origins are unclear, it's been used for at least a couple of centuries in the English language.

  • Is "barely made it" negative?

It can be used in both positive and negative contexts, depending on the situation.

  • Can "barely made it" be used humorously?

Yes, the phrase can be used humorously to exaggerate a minor inconvenience or challenge.

  • Why is "barely" used in this idiom?

Barely" means "only just" or "almost not", which emphasizes the closeness of the situation.

  • Are there songs with "barely made it" in the lyrics?

Yes, several songs reference this feeling of narrowly succeeding or escaping.

  • Can "barely made it" refer to emotional situations?

Absolutely, it can refer to narrowly getting through emotional or mental challenges.

  • Is "barely made it" informal?

While it's commonly used in informal settings, it can be found in formal writing, depending on the context.

  • Are there any famous movie scenes associated with "barely made it"?

Yes, numerous action or drama movies have scenes where characters narrowly escape danger, perfectly embodying the idiom.

  • How can I incorporate "barely made it" into my everyday language?

Use it to describe close calls, from missing the bus to almost not finishing an assignment on time.

Final Thoughts About "Barely Made It"

"Barely made it" is a phrase that captures the essence of just managing to achieve something, often against the odds. Whether you're recounting a close call, describing a challenging experience, or sharing a last-minute success, "barely made it" paints a vivid picture of the situation. The idiom offers a definitive way to describe those close calls we all experience.

Here's a quick wrap-up:

  • It emphasizes the suspense and relief of narrowly achieving or avoiding something.
  • Its presence in pop culture, from movies to songs, underscores its universal appeal.
  • Using "barely made it" in conversation can add drama, humor, or emphasis, making it a versatile addition to anyone's vocabulary.

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