plural noun

the refuse or coarser parts of flax or hemp, separated in hackling.

Also hurds.

Origin of hards

before 900; Middle English herdes, Old English heordan



adjective, hard·er, hard·est.

not soft; solid and firm to the touch; unyielding to pressure and impenetrable or almost impenetrable.
firmly formed; tight: a hard knot.
difficult to do or accomplish; fatiguing; troublesome: a hard task.
difficult or troublesome with respect to an action, situation, person, etc.: hard to please; a hard time.
difficult to deal with, manage, control, overcome, or understand: a hard problem.
involving a great deal of effort, energy, or persistence: hard labor; hard study.
performing or carrying on work with great effort, energy, or persistence: a hard worker.
vigorous or violent in force; severe: a hard rain; a hard fall.
bad; unendurable; unbearable: hard luck.
oppressive; harsh; rough: hard treatment.
austere; severe: a hard winter; the hard times of the Great Depression.
harsh or severe in dealing with others: a hard master.
difficult to explain away; undeniable: hard facts.
that can be verified; factual, as distinguished from speculation or hearsay: hard information.
harsh or unfriendly; resentful; severe; bitter: hard feelings; hard words.
of stern judgment or close examination; searching: a hard look.
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.
(of a photograph) contrasty.
severe or rigorous in terms: a hard bargain.
sternly realistic; dispassionate; unsentimental: a hard, practical man; a hard view of life.
incorrigible; disreputable; tough: a hard character.
Scot. and North England. niggardly; stingy.
in coins or paper money as distinguished from checks, securities, promissory notes, or other negotiable instruments).
(of paper money or a monetary system) supported by sufficient gold reserves and easily convertible into the currency of a foreign nation.
(of money) scarce or available at high interest rates: a hard loan.
denoting assets with intrinsic value, as gold, silver, or diamonds.
(of alcoholic beverages)
  1. containing more than 22.5 percent alcohol by volume, as whiskey and brandy as opposed to beer and wine.
  2. strong because of fermentation; intoxicating: hard cider.
(of wine) tasting excessively of tannin.
(of an illicit narcotic or drug) known to be physically addictive, as opium, morphine, or cocaine.
(of water) containing mineral salts that interfere with the action of soap.
(of bread and baked goods)
  1. having a firm, crisp crust or texture: hard rolls.
  2. stale or tough.
(of a fabric) having relatively little nap; smooth: Silk is a harder fabric than wool or cotton.
(of the landing of a rocket or space vehicle) executed without decelerating: a hard landing on the moon.Compare soft(def 28).
(of a missile base) equipped to launch missiles from underground silos.
(of a missile) capable of being launched from an underground silo.
Military. being underground and strongly protected from nuclear bombardment.
Agriculture. noting wheats with high gluten content, milled for a bread flour as contrasted with pastry flour.
  1. fortis.
  2. (of c and g) pronounced as (k) in come and (g) in go, rather than as in cent, cello, suspicion, gem, or beige.
  3. (of consonants in Slavic languages) not palatalized.Compare soft(def 26).
(in the making of rope) noting a lay having a considerable angle to the axis of the rope; short.
Physics. (of a beam of particles or photons) having relatively high energy: hard x-rays.Compare soft(def 29).
(of the penis) erect.

adverb, hard·er, hard·est.

with great exertion; with vigor or violence; strenuously: to work hard; to try hard.
earnestly, intently, or critically: to look hard at a thing.
harshly or severely.
so as to be solid, tight, or firm: frozen hard.
with strong force or impact: She tripped and came down hard on her back.
in a deeply affected manner; with genuine sorrow or remorse: She took it very hard when they told her of his death.
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.
to an unreasonable or extreme degree; excessively; immoderately: He's hitting the bottle pretty hard.
Nautical. closely, fully, or to the extreme limit: hard aport; hard alee.


Nautical. a firm or paved beach or slope convenient for hauling vessels out of the water.
  1. a firm or solid beach or foreshore.
  2. a firm landing, jetty, or road across or adjoining the foreshore.
British Slang. hard labor.

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

Examples from the Web for hards

Historical Examples of hards

  • I think the Hards must have deteriorated considerably since the battle of Lexington.

    Across the Mesa

    Jarvis Hall

  • You shrink from the hards of life which I steer happily through.

    The Half-Hearted

    John Buchan

British Dictionary definitions for hards



pl n

coarse fibres and other refuse from flax and hemp

Word Origin for hards

Old English heordan (plural); related to Middle Dutch hēde, Greek keskeon tow



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 hards



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 hards


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.