[ hahrd-wair ]
See synonyms for hardware on Thesaurus.com
  1. metalware typically used for repair or construction, as screws, locks, hinges, or machine parts:The store has aisles for hardware, lumber, electrical equipment, and plumbing supplies.

  2. the mechanical equipment necessary for conducting an activity, usually distinguished from the theory and design that make the activity possible.

  1. Computers. the mechanical, magnetic, electronic, and electrical devices comprising a computer system, as the CPU, disk drives, keyboard, or screen.: Compare software.

  2. military weapons and combat equipment: The tactical concern with retreat was military hardware falling into enemy hands.

  3. Slang. a weapon or weapons carried on one's person: The rougher types were asked to check their hardware at the door.

  4. Slang.

    • medals or trophies: The Olympic athletes posed iconically with their new hardware fanned across their chests, or playfully pretended to bite their gold medals.

    • jewelry, especially large or flashy pieces of jewelry: She loved her engagement ring, but she took it off at work—a bakery is no place for hardware like that.

Origin of hardware

First recorded in 1505–15; 1955–60 for def. 3; hard + ware1

Words Nearby hardware

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use hardware in a sentence

  • They did so, and Crane looked up at the fat hardware man with eyes that were not quite so contemptuous.

    Scattergood Baines | Clarence Budington Kelland
  • Scattergood Baines sat on the porch of his hardware store and looked down Coldriver Valley.

    Scattergood Baines | Clarence Budington Kelland
  • He went back to his hardware store and waited—waited for Crane and Keith to start their inevitable logging operations.

    Scattergood Baines | Clarence Budington Kelland
  • It cost him something like half a dollar an acre, and Landers considered he had robbed the hardware merchant of a machine.

    Scattergood Baines | Clarence Budington Kelland
  • He had simply gone along selling hardware in his own way—and selling a good deal of it.

    Scattergood Baines | Clarence Budington Kelland

British Dictionary definitions for hardware


/ (ˈhɑːdˌwɛə) /

  1. metal tools, implements, etc, esp cutlery or cooking utensils

  2. computing the physical equipment used in a computer system, such as the central processing unit, peripheral devices, and memory: Compare software

  1. mechanical equipment, components, etc

  2. heavy military equipment, such as tanks and missiles or their parts

  3. informal a gun or guns collectively

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

Scientific definitions for hardware


[ härdwâr′ ]

  1. A computer, its components, and its related equipment. Hardware includes disk drives, integrated circuits, display screens, cables, modems, speakers, and printers. Compare software.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for hardware


The physical machinery and devices that make up a computer system. It is contrasted to software — the programs and instructions used to run the system.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.