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[hahrd-pan] /ˈhɑrdˌpæn/
any layer of firm detrital matter, as of clay, underlying soft soil.
Compare caliche, duricrust.
hard, unbroken ground.
the fundamental or basic aspect of anything; solid foundation; underlying reality:
the hardpan of mathematical theory.
Origin of hardpan
An Americanism dating back to 1810-20; hard + pan1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for hardpan
Historical Examples
  • He came to a dark patch on the hardpan and strided over it, unheeding.

    Dust of the Desert Robert Welles Ritchie
  • When small lakes dry up, they leave a salt crust or hardpan.

    Deserts A. S. Walker
  • hardpan or stone screenings are much preferred for this purpose if they can be had.

    The Future of Road-making in America Archer Butler Hulbert
  • Only hardpan and alkali land could be bought in California at that price.

    A Stake in the Land Peter Alexander Speek
  • If the hardpan is rather high, it is well to subsoil the area or to trench it (that is, to spade it up two or three spades deep).

  • hardpan, the hard, unbroken layer of earth, below the mould or cultivated soil.

    A Treatise on Domestic Economy

    Catherine Esther Beecher
  • For hardpan, shale, loose rock and similar materials, ample strength of teeth and dipper is of greater importance than its shape.

  • Elsewhere the hardpan or bedrock must have been exceptionally level and near the top of the ground.

    The Land of Footprints Stewart Edward White
  • And as for doing what Adirondack Murray did—get right down to hardpan and wash dishes in a dishpan—he couldn't do it.

  • Three persons worked together, one to clear off the sand on the ground to within six inches of the hardpan.

British Dictionary definitions for hardpan


a hard impervious layer of clay below the soil, resistant to drainage and root growth
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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hardpan in Science
A hard, usually clay-rich layer of soil lying at or just below the ground surface, in which soil particles are cemented together by silica, iron oxide, calcium carbonate, or organic matter that has precipitated from water percolating through the soil. Hardpans do not soften when exposed to water. Also called caliche.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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