or hard-core [ hahrd-kohr ]
What does hardcore mean?
Hardcore means “extreme” or “intense,” like a hardcore gym routine, or a fan of Justin Bieber. It is especially used to reference hardcore punk music or pornography.
Where does hardcore come from?
In the early 1910s, hard core described the central element of something, like its unmovable (hard) foundation (core). By the 1920s, this extended to an unwavering devotion to a group or cause.
Hardcore pornography (which shows sex explicit acts) emerges from a 1957 obscenity trial and was used to describe sexual materials without artistic merit. Softcore pornography emerges in the 1960s for pornography that is erotic but not explicit.
Hardcore music begins as a fast, loud, abrasive, and politicized genre of punk music in the 1970s–80s. Notable acts included Bad Brains, Black Flag, and Minor Threat. The name is often credited to Canadian rockers D.O.A’s 1981 album Hardcore ’81.
Hardcore punk lent its -core as a combining form for other aggressive or experimental genres, like metalcore and nerdcore, then just to other trends in general such as normcore or sleazecore fashion.
Examples of hardcore
Who uses hardcore?
People commonly use hardcore to describe their passionate commitment to such things as a sport/sports team, hobby, fandom, person, cause, or group.
I'm worried she might judge me when she finds out that I'm a hardcore Whovian and comic book geek.
— Ansem the Wise (@alkalinemormon) February 20, 2018
Hardcore can also characterize someone as “tough” and “edgy,” often used ironically.
i’m so hardcore fall i could do pumpkin spice shots
— Julia (@Juliaaziepfel) October 14, 2018
I’m so hardcore that I use the blood of my enemies as a personal lubricant.
— ☠️👻regular ficklenuts until thanksgiving👻☠️ (@ficklenuts) May 12, 2018
Hardcore remains used in pornography, especially online. It’s also used in the punk scene. As noted, other punk-inflected music genres feature the -core from hardcore, e.g., cuddlecore or horrorcore. Increasingly, fashion trends, as we saw with normcore, are using this -core as well.
This is not meant to be a formal definition of hardcore like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of hardcore that will help our users expand their word mastery.