Origin of hardtack

First recorded in 1830–40; hard + tack2
Also called pilot biscuit, pilot bread, ship biscuit, ship bread.
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British Dictionary definitions for hard tack

hard tack

  1. Irish informal whisky


  1. a kind of hard saltless biscuit, formerly eaten esp by sailors as a staple aboard shipAlso 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

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