[ hahrd ]
See synonyms for: hardharderhardesthards on Thesaurus.com

adjective,hard·er, hard·est.
  1. not soft; solid and firm to the touch; unyielding to pressure and impenetrable or almost impenetrable.

  2. firmly formed; tight: a hard knot.

  1. difficult to do or accomplish; fatiguing; troublesome: a hard task.

  2. difficult or troublesome with respect to an action, situation, person, etc.: hard to please;a hard time.

  3. difficult to deal with, manage, control, overcome, or understand: a hard problem.

  4. involving a great deal of effort, energy, or persistence: hard labor;hard study.

  5. performing or carrying on work with great effort, energy, or persistence: a hard worker.

  6. vigorous or violent in force; severe: a hard rain;a hard fall.

  7. bad; unendurable; unbearable: hard luck.

  8. oppressive; harsh; rough: hard treatment.

  9. austere; severe: a hard winter;the hard times of the Great Depression.

  10. harsh or severe in dealing with others: a hard master.

  11. difficult to explain away; undeniable: hard facts.

  12. that can be verified; factual, as distinguished from speculation or hearsay: hard information.

  13. harsh or unfriendly; resentful; severe; bitter: hard feelings;hard words.

  14. of stern judgment or close examination; searching: a hard look.

  15. lacking delicacy or softness; not blurred or diffused; clear and distinct; sharp; harsh: a hard line;a hard, bright light;hard features;a hard face.

  16. (of a photograph) contrasty.

  17. severe or rigorous in terms: a hard bargain.

  18. sternly realistic; dispassionate; unsentimental: a hard, practical man;a hard view of life.

  19. incorrigible; disreputable; tough: a hard character.

  20. Scot. and North England. stingy; mean: hard with money.

  21. in coins or paper money as distinguished from checks, securities, promissory notes, or other negotiable instruments).

  22. (of paper money or a monetary system) supported by sufficient gold reserves and easily convertible into the currency of a foreign nation.

  23. (of money) scarce or available at high interest rates: a hard loan.

  24. denoting assets with intrinsic value, as gold, silver, or diamonds.

  25. (of alcoholic beverages)

    • containing more than 22.5 percent alcohol by volume, as whiskey and brandy as opposed to beer and wine.

    • strong because of fermentation; intoxicating: hard cider.

  26. (of wine) tasting excessively of tannin.

  27. (of an illicit narcotic or drug) known to be physically addictive, as opium, morphine, or cocaine.

  28. (of water) containing mineral salts that interfere with the action of soap.

  29. (of bread and baked goods)

    • having a firm, crisp crust or texture: hard rolls.

    • stale or tough.

  30. (of a fabric) having relatively little nap; smooth: Silk is a harder fabric than wool or cotton.

  31. (of the landing of a rocket or space vehicle) executed without decelerating: a hard landing on the moon.: Compare soft (def. 28).

  32. (of a missile base) equipped to launch missiles from underground silos.

  33. (of a missile) capable of being launched from an underground silo.

  34. Military. being underground and strongly protected from nuclear bombardment.

  35. Agriculture. noting wheats with high gluten content, milled for a bread flour as contrasted with pastry flour.

  36. Phonetics.

    • (of c and g) pronounced as (k) in come and (g) in go, rather than as in cent, cello, suspicion, gem, or beige.

    • (of consonants in Slavic languages) not palatalized.: Compare soft (def. 26).

  37. (in the making of rope) noting a lay having a considerable angle to the axis of the rope; short.

  38. Physics. (of a beam of particles or photons) having relatively high energy: hard x-rays.: Compare soft (def. 29).

  39. (of the penis) erect.

adverb,hard·er, hard·est.
  1. with great exertion; with vigor or violence; strenuously: to work hard;to try hard;to fight back hard.

  2. earnestly, intently, or critically: to look hard at a thing.

  1. harshly or severely.

  2. so as to be solid, tight, or firm: frozen hard.

  3. with strong force or impact: She tripped and came down hard on her back.

  4. in a deeply affected manner; with genuine sorrow or remorse: She took it very hard when they told her of his death.

  5. closely; immediately: Failure and defeat seemed hard at hand. The decision to ban students from the concerts followed hard on the heels of the riot.

  6. to an unreasonable or extreme degree; excessively; immoderately: He's hitting the bottle pretty hard.

  7. Nautical. closely, fully, or to the extreme limit: hard aport;hard alee.

  1. Nautical. a firm or paved beach or slope convenient for hauling vessels out of the water.

  2. British.

    • a firm or solid beach or foreshore.

    • a firm landing, jetty, or road across or adjoining the foreshore.

  1. British Slang. hard labor.

Idioms about hard

  1. be hard on, to deal harshly with; be stern: You are being too hard on him.

  2. hard by, in close proximity to; near: The house is hard by the river.

  1. hard of hearing. See entry at hard of hearing.

  2. hard put, in great perplexity or difficulty; at a loss: We were hard put to finish the examination in one hour.

  3. hard up, Informal.

    • urgently in need of money.

    • feeling a lack or need: The country is hard up for technicians and doctors.

Origin of hard

First recorded before 900; Middle English; Old English heard; cognate with Dutch hard, German hart, Old Norse harthr, Gothic hardus; akin to Homeric Greek kratýs “strong” and classical Greek krátos “strength” (see -cracy), from the Proto-Indo-European root kar-, ker- “hard”

synonym study For hard

1. See firm1. 3. 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. 12. 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 insensitive to being 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.

Other words for hard

Opposites for hard

Other words from hard

  • half-hard, adjective
  • o·ver·hard, adjective
  • o·ver·hard·ness, noun
  • sem·i·hard, adjective
  • sem·i·hard·ness, noun

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

How to use hard in a sentence

  • I have fed and slept at inns, living on the worst of fares and sleeping on the hardest, and hardly the cleanest, of beds.

    St. Martin's Summer | Rafael Sabatini
  • Therefore David sent word to the general to place Uriah in the front of the battle, where the fight was hardest.

    God and my Neighbour | Robert Blatchford
  • When Fate has first granted just a sip of the wine of success the slip between the cup and lip comes hardest.

  • Both sides settled down to steady hard pounding, and it remained to be seen which would pound the hardest and the longest.

    King Robert the Bruce | A. F. Murison
  • Besides, she said to herself, Gee Gee will put the hardest questions on the list to meI just know she will.

British Dictionary definitions for hard


/ (hɑːd) /

  1. firm or rigid; not easily dented, crushed, or pierced

  2. toughened by or as if by physical labour; not soft or smooth: hard hands

  1. difficult to do or accomplish; arduous: a hard task

  2. difficult to understand or perceive: a hard question

  3. showing or requiring considerable physical or mental energy, effort, or application: hard work; a hard drinker

  4. stern, cold, or intractable: a hard judge

  5. exacting; demanding: a hard master

  6. harsh; cruel: a hard fate

  7. inflicting pain, sorrow, distress, or hardship: hard times

  8. tough or adamant: a hard man

  9. forceful or violent: a hard knock

  10. cool or uncompromising: we took a long hard look at our profit factor

  11. indisputable; real: hard facts

  12. chem (of water) impairing the formation of a lather by soap: See hardness (def. 3)

  13. practical, shrewd, or calculating: he is a hard man in business

  14. too harsh to be pleasant: hard light

    • (of cash, money, etc) in coin and paper rather than cheques

    • (of currency) in strong demand, esp as a result of a good balance of payments situation

    • (of credit) difficult to obtain; tight

  15. (of alcoholic drink) being a spirit rather than a wine, beer, etc: the hard stuff

  16. (of a drug such as heroin, morphine, or cocaine) highly addictive: Compare soft (def. 20)

  17. physics (of radiation, such as gamma rays and X-rays) having high energy and the ability to penetrate solids

  18. physics (of a vacuum) almost complete

  19. mainly US (of goods) durable

  20. short for hard-core: See hard core (def. 3), hard core (def. 4)

  21. (of news coverage) concentrating on serious stories

  22. phonetics

    • an older word for fortis

    • (not in modern technical usage) denoting the consonants c and g in English when they are pronounced as velar stops (k, g)

    • (of consonants in the Slavonic languages) not palatalized

    • being heavily fortified and protected

    • (of nuclear missiles) located underground in massively reinforced silos

  23. politically extreme: the hard left

  24. British and NZ informal incorrigible or disreputable (esp in the phrase a hard case)

  25. (of bread, etc) stale and old

  26. a hard nut to crack

    • a person not easily persuaded or won over

    • a thing not easily understood

  27. hard by near; close by

  28. hard doer NZ a tough worker at anything

  29. hard done by unfairly or badly treated

  30. hard up informal

    • in need of money; poor

    • (foll by for) in great need (of): hard up for suggestions

  31. put the hard word on Australian and NZ informal to ask or demand something from

  1. with great energy, force, or vigour: the team always played hard

  2. as far as possible; all the way: hard left

  1. with application; earnestly or intently: she thought hard about the formula

  2. with great intensity, force, or violence: his son's death hit him hard

  3. (foll by on, upon, by, or after) close; near: hard on his heels

  4. (foll by at) assiduously; devotedly

    • with effort or difficulty: their victory was hard won

    • (in combination): hard-earned

  5. slowly and reluctantly: prejudice dies hard

  6. go hard with to cause pain or difficulty to (someone): it will go hard with you if you don't tell the truth

  7. hard at it working hard

  8. 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

  1. any colorant that produces a harsh coarse appearance

  2. British a roadway across a foreshore

  1. slang hard labour

  2. slang an erection of the penis (esp in the phrase get or have a hard on)

Origin of 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

Other Idioms and Phrases with hard


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.