metalware, as tools, locks, hinges, or cutlery.
the mechanical equipment necessary for conducting an activity, usually distinguished from the theory and design that make the activity possible.
military weapons and combat equipment.
Slang. a weapon carried on one's person: The rougher types were asked to check their hardware at the door.
Computers. the mechanical, magnetic, electronic, and electrical devices comprising a computer system, as the CPU, disk drives, keyboard, or screen.

Compare software.

Origin of hardware

1505–15; 1955–60 for def 5; hard + ware1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hardware

Contemporary Examples of hardware

Historical Examples of hardware

  • But anything will do, except a grocery or a hardware store and places like that.

    The Fortune Hunter

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • Hardware was too high in price, and was no longer needed for clothing.

    Welsh Fairy Tales

    William Elliott Griffis

  • In 1850, he left the trade in dry goods and took up that in hardware.

  • "We're in back of Williamson's hardware place," replied Ned.

  • "His hardware'd melt where I'D tell him to go," he declared.


    Joseph C. Lincoln

British Dictionary definitions for hardware



metal tools, implements, etc, esp cutlery or cooking utensils
computing the physical equipment used in a computer system, such as the central processing unit, peripheral devices, and memoryCompare software
mechanical equipment, components, etc
heavy military equipment, such as tanks and missiles or their parts
informal a gun or guns collectively
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 hardware

mid-15c., "small metal goods," from hard + ware (n.). In the sense of "physical components of a computer" it dates from 1947. Hardware store attested by 1789.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for hardware



A computer, its components, and its related equipment. Hardware includes disk drives, integrated circuits, display screens, cables, modems, speakers, and printers. Compare software.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Culture definitions for hardware


The physical machinery and devices that make up a computer system. It is contrasted to software — the programs and instructions used to run the system.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.