barely my senior

Tea Addict

Senior Member
Republic of Korea Korean
Hello everyone! I am wondering what the expression "barely my senior" means in the following sentences:

"In years, he was barely my senior, but he seemed then to be burdened with the experience of the Wandering Jew. He was indeed a nomad of no nationality."

This is an excerpt from Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. Here, the protagonist—Charles Ryder, an Oxford student—is describing Anthony Blanche, a wholly exotic and saucy character.
I heard that 'barely' basically means negative. So I am confused whether Anthony Blanche was actually my senior or not. :confused:

I would very much appreciate your help!
 
  • Tea Addict

    Senior Member
    Republic of Korea Korean
    Barely here means slightly.
    Thank you for your reply, MarcB!
    Then what it implies is that Anthony Blanche was my senior by merely one year, or by only a few months; am I right?
    Maybe it's because I am not used to British school system that I cannot grasp what it means to be barely someone's senior.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    "In years, he was barely my senior" means nothing more than "he was only a little older than me". There is no implied reference to the school system, it refers only to age.
     

    Scrawny goat

    Senior Member
    English - Ireland
    It has nothing to do with the British school system. It means that he had the air of an old man, although in fact he was approximately the same age as the speaker (who is young).

    Also note that this construction is no longer current. It is old fashioned speech.

    Cross posted.
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    It means that he had the air of an old man,
    This inference comes, I suppose, from the reference to the legend of the Wandering Jew. The words that the OP asked about (barely my senior) only mean that Blanche was just a little older than the narrator.:)

    Tea Addict, this is the applicable definition of the word:
    barely (WR dictionary): only just; scarcely; no more than; almost not: He had barely enough money to pay for the car.

    In years, he was barely my senior = In age, he was just a little older than me.
     

    Scrawny goat

    Senior Member
    English - Ireland
    This inference comes, I suppose, from the reference to the legend of the Wandering Jew. The words that the OP asked about (barely my senior) only mean that Blanche was just a little older than the narrator.:)

    Tea Addict, this is the applicable definition of the word:
    barely (WR dictionary): only just; scarcely; no more than; almost not: He had barely enough money to pay for the car.

    In years, he was barely my senior = In age, he was just a little older than me.
    I was using context to understand and answer. I think it was pretty clear that 'it' referred to the passage, not the phrase?
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    Yes, I understood that. But the OP might have thought that you meant the actual phrase he was asking about, which is what I tried to clarify.:)
     

    Tea Addict

    Senior Member
    Republic of Korea Korean
    Thank you so much for helping me, everyone!
    So it was just an old-fashioned way of saying that he was a little older than the narrator.
    I am so happy to find the answer. :)
     
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