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[hahrd-tak] /ˈhɑrdˌtæk/
a hard, saltless biscuit, formerly much used aboard ships and for army rations.
Also called pilot biscuit, pilot bread, ship biscuit, ship bread.
Origin of hardtack
First recorded in 1830-40; hard + tack2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for hard tack
Historical Examples
  • "Salt junk and hard tack," suggested Wilton, who was not partial to this diet.

    Dikes and Ditches Oliver Optic
  • You can get cracker crumbs by rolling some hard tack with a rolling-pin.

    The ABC of Cooking Adelin Balch Coit
  • They did look inviting to these devourers of hard tack and bacon.

    The Blue and The Gray A. R. White
  • However, I had to resort to pork and hard tack for my breakfast.

  • Jacky then has some hard tack and coffee before he goes to work.

  • The fish were nibbling at pieces of hard tack which had been thrown overboard by the sailors.

  • Coffee, hard tack, sugar, with a small allowance of salt pork two or three times during a month was what we had to live on.

    Drum Taps in Dixie Delavan S. Miller
  • We could have worried along on hard tack and jerked beef if we'd been pressed hard enough.

    One Way Out William Carleton
  • For bread there was a small quantity of "hard tack" and a large supply of corn meal.

    Camp Venture

    George Cary Eggleston
  • The coffee and the hard tack consumed we spread our rubber blankets and sleep as sound as any house in Christendom.

British Dictionary definitions for hard tack

hard tack

(Irish, informal) whisky


a kind of hard saltless biscuit, formerly eaten esp by sailors as a staple aboard ship Also called pilot biscuit, ship's biscuit, sea biscuit
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hard tack



1836, "ship's biscuit," from hard (adj.) + tack (n.3); soft-tack was soft wheaten bread.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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