Origin of hardened

Middle English word dating back to 1325–75; see origin at harden, -ed2
Related formssem·i·hard·ened, adjectiveun·hard·ened, adjectivewell-hard·ened, adjective



verb (used with object)

to make hard or harder: to harden steel.
to make pitiless or unfeeling: to harden one's heart.
to make rigid or unyielding; stiffen: The rigors of poverty hardened his personality.
to strengthen or confirm, especially with reference to character, intentions, feelings, etc.; reinforce.
to make hardy, robust, or capable of endurance; toughen.
Military. to reinforce the structure of (a military or strategic installation) to protect it from nuclear bombardment.

verb (used without object)

to become hard or harder.
to become pitiless or unfeeling.
to become rigid or unyielding; stiffen: His personality hardened over the years.
to become confirmed or strengthened: His resistance hardened.
to become inured or toughened: The troops hardened under constant fire.
Commerce. (of a market, prices, etc.)
  1. to cease to fluctuate; firm: When the speculators withdrew from the market, the prices hardened.
  2. to rise higher.

Origin of harden

Middle English word dating back to 1150–1200; see origin at hard, -en1
Related formshard·en·a·ble, adjectivehard·en·a·bil·i·ty, nouno·ver·hard·en, verbpre·hard·en, verb (used with object)re·hard·en, verbun·hard·en, verb (used with object)un·hard·en·a·ble, adjective

Synonyms for harden

Antonyms for harden

1. soften. 4. weaken.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hardened

Contemporary Examples of hardened

Historical Examples of hardened

  • Physically he had undoubtedly improved; his legs had hardened and smoothed down.


    W. A. Fraser

  • The law represented the best that could be done with hardened hearts.

  • But Sapphira was "hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."

  • I am hardened now, I have sunk too low to care long even for that.'

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • He was hardened, steeped in guilt, and callous as to the sufferings of others.

    Henry Dunbar

    M. E. Braddon

British Dictionary definitions for hardened



rigidly set, as in a mode of behaviour
toughened, as by custom; seasoned
(of a nuclear missile site) constructed to withstand a nuclear attack




to make or become hard or harder; freeze, stiffen, or set
to make or become more hardy, tough, or unfeeling
to make or become stronger or firmerthey hardened defences
to make or become more resolute or sethardened in his resolve
(intr) commerce
  1. (of prices, a market, etc) to cease to fluctuate
  2. (of price) to rise higher




a rough fabric made from hards
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 hardened



c.1200 (replacing Old English heardian) "to make (something) hard," from hard + -en (1). Meaning "to become hard" is late 14c. Related: Hardened (figurative sense of "unfeeling" is from late 14c.); hardening.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper