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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for hardtack
Historical Examples
  • I had some hardtack and tea in my “grub bag,” and these I left with her.

    The Long Labrador Trail Dillon Wallace
  • Jerked beef and hardtack, washed down with coffee, was their fare.

    Oh, You Tex! William Macleod Raine
  • hardtack was served with this soup and made a most satisfactory meal.

  • We shall feed our men on herring and hardtack with the coffee.

  • Kirby swallowed what must have been the last soggy crumb of hardtack.

    Ride Proud, Rebel! Andre Alice Norton
  • Both sides were starving, the one for tobacco and the other for hardtack and bacon.

    The Crisis, Complete Winston Churchill
  • They still had some hardtack, but of meat and coffee there was none.

    The Adventures of a Boy Reporter Harry Steele Morrison
  • The hardtack and provisions carried on march leave something to be desired.

    Old Fort Garland James T. Forrest
  • No fire could be made in the galley, so we lived mostly on hardtack.

  • hardtack was scarce for a while at Stafford and the thought itself is hungrifying.

    Company G

    A. R. (Albert Rowe) Barlow
British Dictionary definitions for hardtack


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 hardtack

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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