adjective, hard·er, hard·est.

adverb, hard·er, hard·est.



    be hard on, to deal harshly with; be stern: You are being too hard on him.
    hard by, in close proximity to; near: The house is hard by the river.
    hard of hearing. hearing-impaired.
    hard put, in great perplexity or difficulty; at a loss: We were hard put to finish the examination in one hour.
    hard up, Informal.
    1. urgently in need of money.
    2. feeling a lack or need: The country is hard up for technicians and doctors.

Origin of hard

before 900; Middle English; Old English heard; cognate with Dutch hard, German hart, Old Norse harthr, Gothic hardus; akin to Greek kratýs strong, Ionic dial. kártos strength (cf. -cracy)
Related formshalf-hard, adjectiveo·ver·hard, adjectiveo·ver·hard·ness, nounsem·i·hard, adjectivesem·i·hard·ness, noun

Synonyms for hard

1. inflexible, rigid, compressed, compact, dense, resisting, adamantine, flinty. See firm1. 3. toilsome, burdensome, wearisome, exhausting. Hard, difficult both describe something resistant to one's efforts or one's endurance. Hard is the general word: hard times; It was hard to endure the severe weather. Difficult means not easy, and particularly denotes that which requires special effort or skill: a difficult task. 5. complex, complicated, perplexing, puzzling, intricate, knotty, tough. 6. arduous, onerous, laborious. 8. stormy, tempestuous. 10. severe, rigorous, grinding, cruel, merciless, unsparing. 12. stern, austere, strict, exacting, relentless, obdurate, adamant; unyielding, unpitying. Hard, callous, unfeeling, unsympathetic imply a lack of interest in, feeling for, or sympathy with others. Hard implies insensibility, either natural or acquired, so that the plight of others makes no impression on one: a hard taskmaster. Callous may mean the same or that one is himself or herself insensitive to hurt as the result of continued repression and indifference: a callous answer; callous to criticism. Unfeeling implies natural inability to feel with and for others: an unfeeling and thoughtless remark. Unsympathetic implies an indifference that precludes pity, compassion, or the like: unsympathetic toward distress. 13. incontrovertible.

Antonyms for hard

1. soft. 3–6. easy.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for hard up

destitute, impoverished, poor, poverty-stricken

British Dictionary definitions for hard up



firm or rigid; not easily dented, crushed, or pierced
toughened by or as if by physical labour; not soft or smoothhard hands
difficult to do or accomplish; arduousa hard task
difficult to understand or perceivea hard question
showing or requiring considerable physical or mental energy, effort, or applicationhard work; a hard drinker
stern, cold, or intractablea hard judge
exacting; demandinga hard master
harsh; cruela hard fate
inflicting pain, sorrow, distress, or hardshiphard times
tough or adamanta hard man
forceful or violenta hard knock
cool or uncompromisingwe took a long hard look at our profit factor
indisputable; realhard facts
chem (of water) impairing the formation of a lather by soapSee hardness (def. 3)
practical, shrewd, or calculatinghe is a hard man in business
too harsh to be pleasanthard light
  1. (of cash, money, etc) in coin and paper rather than cheques
  2. (of currency) in strong demand, esp as a result of a good balance of payments situation
  3. (of credit) difficult to obtain; tight
(of alcoholic drink) being a spirit rather than a wine, beer, etcthe hard stuff
(of a drug such as heroin, morphine, or cocaine) highly addictiveCompare soft (def. 20)
physics (of radiation, such as gamma rays and X-rays) having high energy and the ability to penetrate solids
physics (of a vacuum) almost complete
mainly US (of goods) durable
short for hard-coreSee hard core (def. 3), hard core (def. 4)
(of news coverage) concentrating on serious stories
  1. an older word for fortis
  2. (not in modern technical usage) denoting the consonants c and g in English when they are pronounced as velar stops (k, g)
  3. (of consonants in the Slavonic languages) not palatalized
  1. being heavily fortified and protected
  2. (of nuclear missiles) located underground in massively reinforced silos
politically extremethe hard left
British and NZ informal incorrigible or disreputable (esp in the phrase a hard case)
(of bread, etc) stale and old
a hard nut to crack
  1. a person not easily persuaded or won over
  2. a thing not easily understood
hard by near; close by
hard doer NZ a tough worker at anything
hard done by unfairly or badly treated
hard up informal
  1. in need of money; poor
  2. (foll by for)in great need (of)hard up for suggestions
put the hard word on Australian and NZ informal to ask or demand something from


with great energy, force, or vigourthe team always played hard
as far as possible; all the wayhard left
with application; earnestly or intentlyshe thought hard about the formula
with great intensity, force, or violencehis son's death hit him hard
(foll by on, upon, by, or after) close; nearhard on his heels
(foll by at) assiduously; devotedly
  1. with effort or difficultytheir victory was hard won
  2. (in combination)hard-earned
slowly and reluctantlyprejudice dies hard
go hard with to cause pain or difficulty to (someone)it will go hard with you if you don't tell the truth
hard at it working hard
hard put or hard put to it scarcely having the capacity (to do something)he's hard put to get to work by 9:30


any colorant that produces a harsh coarse appearance
British a roadway across a foreshore
slang hard labour
slang an erection of the penis (esp in the phrase get or have a hard on)

Word Origin for hard

Old English heard; related to Old Norse harthr, Old Frisian herd, Old High German herti, Gothic hardus hard, Greek kratus strong
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 up



Old English heard "solid, firm, not soft," also "severe, rigorous, cruel," from Proto-Germanic *hardu- (cf. Old Saxon and Dutch hard, Old Norse harðr "hard," Old High German harto "extremely, very," German hart, Gothic hardus "hard"), from PIE *kortu-, (cf. Greek kratos "strength," kratys "strong"), from root *kar-/*ker- "hard." Meaning "difficult to do" is from c.1200. The adverb sense was also present in Old English.

Hard of hearing preserves obsolete Middle English sense of "having difficulty in doing something." Hard liquor is 1879, American English (hard drink is from 1810; hard cider is from 1789), and this probably led to hard drugs (1955). Hard facts is from 1887; hard news is from 1938. Hard copy (as opposed to computer record) is from 1964; hard disk is from 1978. Hard up (1610s) is originally nautical, of steering (slang sense of "short of money" is from 1821), as is hard and fast (1680s), of a ship on shore. Hard times "period of poverty" is from 1705.

Hard money (1706) is specie, as opposed to paper. Hence 19c. U.S. hard (n.) "one who advocates the use of metallic money as the national currency" (1844). To play hard to get is from 1945. Hard rock as a pop music style recorded from 1967.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with hard up

hard up

In need, poor, as in Unemployment is rising and many families are hard up, or With widespread emigration, Russia is finding itself hard up for scientists and other professional people. [Colloquial; early 1800s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with hard

  • hard act to follow
  • hard and fast
  • hard as nails
  • hard bargain
  • hard cash
  • harden one's heart
  • hard feelings
  • hard hat
  • hard hit, be
  • hard line
  • hard liquor
  • hard luck
  • hardly ever
  • hard nut to crack
  • hard of hearing
  • hard on
  • hard on someone's heels
  • hard pressed
  • hard put, be
  • hard row to hoe
  • hard sell
  • hard time
  • hard up
  • hard way, the

also see:

  • between a rock and a hard place
  • cold (hard) cash
  • come down (hard) on
  • die hard
  • drive a (hard) bargain
  • go hard with
  • no hard feelings
  • play hardball
  • play hard to get
  • school of hard knocks
  • tough (hard) row to hoe
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.