Why do you need to know à peine?
So, what does it mean?
Literally à peine means 'to pain' or 'to effort'.
Obviously this doesn't make much sense in English but when used in French conversation, it acts as an adverb meaning 'hardly', 'barely' or 'scarcely'.
While the literal translation might seem completely useless at first, there is some sense to be made from it.
Both 'pain' and 'effort' suggest doing something with difficulty so it makes sense that you would 'barely' or 'hardly' want to do it.
For example, if you're out with a friend and ready to have some lunch, they might try and delay it by saying J'ai à peine faim (I'm barely hungry).
And you can also say it in reference to the time. For example: Il est à peine midi (It's barely noon).
While the expression isn't necessarily an informal one, it can be used informally to express disbelief.
For help on how to pronounce peine, check out the video below.