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The Wiktionary and the non-existent lingvo entry for еле-еле don't shed light on its meaning. I usually misstrust (at least a little), when two words are marked as synonyms. In this case еле-еле must be different from елe. Isn't it?

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    Words are duplicated to emphasize their emotional load: 'девушки красивые-красивые', 'небо синее-синее', 'бежать быстро-быстро'. Sometimes the second word in pair receives the prefix 'пре-': 'репка большая-пребольшая', 'небо синее-пресинее'. Duplication is most often met in children's speech, tales, poetry etc. However, 'еле' is most often used duplicated. – ach Jun 6 '14 at 15:41
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As @mr_tron pointed out, the meaning is very little, however best English equivalent I can think of is barely:

Он еле-еле дышал.
He was barely breathing.

Он еле-еле ехал.
He was barely moving.

Depending on the context, some other words of similar meaning can be substituted, all around the same meaning:

Он еле-еле победил.
He barely won. (This doesn't sound very good.)
He won by a tiny margin. (This sounds better in English.)

The meaning of word еле is exactly the same, although you could argue that repeating the word twice emphasises its meaning:

Он еле дышал.
Он еле-еле дышал.
He was barely breathing. (Both versions.)

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    Ah! I understood him/her wrong! I thought "Это означает очень мало" was referring to the role of the word in the sentence – that it could be neglected or so. So his/her answer should be "Это означает очень мало". – c.p. Jun 6 '14 at 12:57
  • @c.p. Yep, that's it. – Aleks G Jun 6 '14 at 13:03
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Это означает очень мало. Обычно относительно скорости или достижения каких-то результатов.

Например:

Он еле-еле ехал - ехал очень медленно.

или

Он еле-еле победил - победил с очень небольшим преимуществом.

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2

It means "by a small margin" or "with little room to spare".

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1

There certainly are cases when one of the usages is considered more appropriate than the other.

An example that comes to mind is "еле слышно" (more correct) vs "еле-еле слышно" (less correct (I think))

Or "он еле-еле двигал ногами" (more correct I think) vs "он еле двигал ногами",

although "еле двигался" seem to be OK

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