Definition of hard in English:



  • 1Solid, firm, and rigid; not easily broken, bent, or pierced:

    ‘the slate broke on the hard floor’
    ‘rub the varnish down when it's hard’
    • ‘I lay on my back on the hard floor, moving my bag up underneath my head for a bit of comfort.’
    • ‘I lay splayed out, face down on the hard floor for a minute or two, paralysed by embarrassment and surprise.’
    • ‘We finally dumped our bags on the floor and collapsed on the rock hard beds in silence.’
    • ‘The cold weather had made the ground solid and too hard for the dirt to trap footprints.’
    • ‘The pathways break down when it loses the natural, hard compact soil which keeps the path together.’
    • ‘She sat down to the hard floor of the tunnel and sat there, thinking about what to do.’
    • ‘Outside the night was cool and fresh, but the ground was hard and still the rains had not come.’
    • ‘The volunteers used to sleep a dozen to a room on thin pallets laid out on the hard floor of their offices.’
    • ‘Boots thudded on the hard floor as the man wearing them looked into each of the cells.’
    • ‘The easiest way to crack it is to wrap it in a grocery bag and drop it on a hard floor.’
    • ‘This method can produce a wide range of products, from oily coatings to hard coatings and powders.’
    • ‘Wes awoke with a start when he felt something hard whack him in the stomach.’
    • ‘Don't worry about the pears being a bit hard - they'll ripen in seconds on the grill.’
    • ‘Having made his decision, Brett turned over on the uncomfortable, hard floor, satisfied.’
    • ‘When Anna awoke, she found herself back in a side room of the main lab on a rather hard bed.’
    • ‘My youngest daughter fell out of her high chair on to a hard floor.’
    • ‘Breathing became difficult, her muscles shook, and she toppled to her knees on the hard floor.’
    • ‘He handed it to Vicky who found it unexpectedly light, it looked so ornate and delicate but felt solid and hard.’
    • ‘After all, it takes a certain commitment to pay high prices for a hard seat in a draughty theatre.’
    • ‘The floor is hard, but cool and somehow the food tastes better and the conversation is lighter.’
    • ‘Some may insist you sleep on mats on hard floors to straighten out the spine, but they are in a minority.’
    • ‘Make sure there are no sharp corners or hard edges where she could hurt herself.’
    • ‘Home for them was a cold, damp shed, with a hard concrete floor with little or no bedding.’
    • ‘Some skaters prefer this for the tiny increase in control you get with very hard carbon fibre skate boots.’
    • ‘Her body lay flat against the hard mattress she had been lying in for little over a week.’
    • ‘Now he lay on the hard mattress of a cheap hotel, staring at the empty space next to him.’
    • ‘At the time, I was on my feet all day at work on a very cold, hard concrete floor.’
    • ‘He takes a step before his eyes suddenly roll back in his head and he collapses on the hard floor.’
    firm, solid, dense, rigid, stiff, resistant, unbreakable, inflexible, unpliable, impenetrable, unyielding, solidified, hardened, compact, compacted, steely, tough, strong, stony, rock-like, flinty, close-packed, compressed, as hard as iron, as hard as stone
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    1. 1.1 (of a person) not showing any signs of weakness; tough:
      ‘only a handful are hard enough to join the SAS’
      • ‘I used to be removed from the house because I looked like a hard man whereas my wife was educated.’
      • ‘Aaron plays the lead role as a hard man who runs a garage with two friends.’
      • ‘If he played on the right he came up against notorious hard man Tommy Banks.’
      • ‘His detractors lead one to imagine Mr Carey to be the archetypal cigar-chewing hard man in a sheepskin coat.’
      • ‘Many a coach must have asked their resident hard man to successfully confront Johnson, but none have managed it.’
      • ‘As I was serving the buffet the midfield hard man asked me to put Ceefax on the telly so he could see what the Scotland score was.’
      • ‘Too many times midfielders, the ultimate hard men on the pitch, were knocked off the ball.’
      • ‘He also recently traded in his harmonica for a role as a hard man in a television drama.’
      • ‘He was a member of the Cadet Force and rose to the rank of sergeant with a reputation as being a hard man.’
      • ‘He's a hard man, unafraid of any opposition, and he gets other people working well and riled up.’
      • ‘Three nights in Florence and I'd become a softy and I was scared of these Southern hard men.’
      • ‘Vince is a hard player, a good talker, and unlike most good talkers, is a most positive doer.’
      • ‘This one-time military hard man has, he admits, grown attached to his home comforts.’
      • ‘They elected the hard man, the sheriff who would give them the best protection.’
      • ‘If you look at the nature of people involved in gangs in Scotland, a lot of them would be regarded as being very hard people.’
      • ‘We have hard men on our team who will always go for the ball.’
      • ‘You want to know what his hard men who had done well out of Napoleon and the Bourbon Restoration might look like?’
      • ‘What a pity it would be if the Australian debacle was to bring the hard man back to centre stage again.’
      • ‘She is forced to be hard and stick to her decisions, but she is always fair.’
      • ‘Just a sniff of weakness and these hard men will grab the opportunity with both hands.’
      • ‘He's obviously no pushover, but I think he probably needs someone to be the hard man at his side.’
    2. 1.2 (of prices of shares, commodities, etc.) high and stable; firm.
      • ‘It is a company built on hard assets.’
      • ‘In uncertain times, investors usually prefer the certainty of hard money.’
      • ‘Since nearly 70% of hard stock is tightly held and not available for sale at the moment, that leaves a very small number of hard shares available.’
      • ‘Examples of hard commodities include platinum, copper and oil.’
  • 2Done with a great deal of force or strength:

    ‘a hard whack’
    • ‘As he was doing so he felt a hard blow to the side of his face and then another to the top of his head, he told the court.’
    • ‘If he does anything tricky just give him a good hard whack with these here gauntlets.’
    • ‘The next hard blow to the head could be fatal, they said, and he must not fight again.’
    • ‘He said softly while he caressed the side of my face that was still hurting from his hard blow.’
    • ‘The police asked me if the child had fallen or received a hard blow to the injured area of her head.’
    • ‘I had grown angry and pursued him in a fit of fury when he had rejoined his family and given him a hard blow to his head, that is for a two year old.’
    • ‘We chose to sit on a comfortable settee rather than on hard chairs or impractical looking stools.’
    • ‘He reached for the knife from his father's wooden box and struck two hard blows into his stomach.’
    • ‘It then made several very long hard runs forcing me to give line and then play it back.’
    • ‘Danny had forced a hard kiss onto her roughly and now, he was standing there shocked.’
    • ‘The attack involved several hard blows to the side of the head and being punched in the face, according to Mr Dixon.’
    • ‘Not once did the woman utter a sound, any cry of pain, she simply stood there, flinching when a hard blow came down on her.’
    • ‘Buddy cuffed Roy on the head, slapped a small shovel in his hands, and gave him a hard shove.’
    • ‘He gave Tyler a rather hard slap on the back that made him nearly fall over the counter.’
    • ‘He had reluctantly left, returned and then hit Mohammed Akbar a hard blow on the head with a baseball bat.’
    • ‘Josh ran over to Alex who had just given me a really hard blow to the cheek bone.’
    • ‘Ichiru choked for a second, and Watz gave him a hard whack on his back before it would go down.’
    • ‘Daryl immediately released her and stepped back like he had received a hard blow in the chest.’
    forceful, heavy, strong, sharp, smart, violent, powerful, vigorous, mighty, hefty, tremendous
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  • 3Requiring a great deal of endurance or effort:

    ‘airship-flying was pretty hard work’
    ‘it's hard for drummers these days’
    [with infinitive] ‘she found it hard to believe that he could be involved’
    • ‘It's a body of thinking and writing whose limits are exceedingly hard to define.’
    • ‘A team-builder, he has a huge appetite for hard work, but can always break off for a laugh or a joke’
    • ‘It is not only hard physical work that makes people exhausted, stress has a similar effect.’
    • ‘In order to be successful with your career or your hobby, you have to put a lot of effort and hard work into it.’
    • ‘People say that it takes ten years of hard study to prepare for a career and love.’
    • ‘Searching for new wrecks requires patience and sometimes hard choices.’
    • ‘Sorting out serious debt can be a long hard slog and their support is often invaluable.’
    • ‘The planting involved a great deal of hard work from our volunteers.’
    • ‘So looking at the big picture, it is hard to see why prices should rise at all.’
    • ‘However, all the hard work is still to come when we fully open to the public.’
    • ‘It was hard to resist the temptation to eat the oranges as fast as we picked them.’
    • ‘To be a successful President is hard enough without having to spend the majority of the year playing catch up.’
    • ‘I think if someone has never experienced depression or that depth of emotional despair it can be hard to comprehend.’
    • ‘Quite what effect his outbursts are having on his daughter is hard to imagine.’
    • ‘She also said the uncertainty of the past week had been very hard to deal with.’
    • ‘She still found it hard to believe that he had survived the fire with just a small amount of injuries.’
    • ‘Looking at Julia as she cuddles her beautiful young daughter, it's hard to believe how different life used to be.’
    • ‘I find this very hard to answer and the reason is that almost anything is possible now.’
    • ‘Now that the damage is setting in, she tires easily and finds it hard to fight off common infections.’
    • ‘It takes determination, overtime and hard graft, but there is nothing like starting your own business.’
    difficult, puzzling, perplexing, baffling, bewildering, mystifying, knotty, thorny, ticklish, problematic, enigmatic, complicated, complex, intricate, involved, tangled, insoluble, unfathomable, impenetrable, incomprehensible, unanswerable
    arduous, strenuous, tiring, fatiguing, exhausting, wearying, back-breaking, gruelling, heavy, laborious
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    1. 3.1 Putting a lot of energy into an activity:
      ‘he'd been a hard worker all his life’
      ‘everyone has been hard at work’
      • ‘By the time they got back round the harbour, three men were already hard at work.’
      • ‘That is why scientists in York are hard at work on developing a new type of packaging that can be composted.’
      • ‘We're hard at work on a new show for White Cube, run by the lovely Jay Jopling.’
      • ‘Hermance was a strong willed person and a hard worker with good organizational skills.’
      • ‘A woodpecker had himself a nice fat acorn, and he was hard at work to crack it open.’
      • ‘Gritting teams were hard at work today clearing routes but some councils were accused of leaving it too late.’
      • ‘They were hard at work heading over the cruelly steep hill that would take them into Denholme then home.’
      • ‘Lekota said the government and the defence force were hard at work to reduce the infection rate.’
      • ‘The Berkeley team and others are now hard at work looking at the chemistry of elements 107 and above.’
      diligent, hard-working, industrious, sedulous, assiduous, conscientious, energetic, keen, enthusiastic, zealous, earnest, persevering, persistent, unflagging, untiring, indefatigable
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    2. 3.2 Difficult to bear; causing suffering:
      ‘times were hard at the end of the war’
      ‘he'd had a hard life’
      • ‘Although conditions were hard the system was well established and functioned for years.’
      • ‘People were having hard times, relationship difficulties, and it does rub off on you.’
      • ‘No doubt the ban has been a hard blow to some parts of the hospitality industry.’
      • ‘They have worked in hard conditions with poor weather and yet they have done wonderful work.’
      • ‘So it's up to you to show that a squirrel knows about winter, and hard times ahead, when it buries nuts.’
      • ‘The lifestyle of peasants in Medieval England was extremely hard and harsh.’
      • ‘The club is hoping for a better second half to the season but life is hard because of the financial restraints.’
      • ‘This is a very hard blow to take, as you can imagine, but in the police service one has to expect the unexpected.’
      • ‘Talya was the most vulnerable and she had a very hard time. She bore the brunt of her mum's anger.’
      • ‘I have the greatest sympathy with those on hard times as I have experienced that myself.’
      • ‘Sinatra was born into hard times, the son of Italian immigrants, in Hoboken, New Jersey.’
      • ‘And going to jail this time I had a really hard time, I've been to jail a few times but this last time was bad.’
      • ‘They were on the whole extremely sympathetic to the hard lives which most of their readers led.’
      • ‘David Frederick was the big brother I never got as a kid, and so losing him was a hard blow.’
      • ‘It's great for Roger because he's had a hard time since he suffered a horrendous injury last season.’
      • ‘It is a very hard and difficult life when a child in the family is autistic.’
      • ‘But they hope to supplement their income with winnings when times are hard, too.’
      • ‘Even reproducing artists are beginning to sense the hard times ahead.’
      • ‘Relaxation helps you to build energy that can be called upon to get you through hard times.’
      • ‘It is her ability to deal with the hard times that her son-in-law so admires.’
      • ‘She had endured an extremely hard life.’
      • ‘He had a very hard life, did all the difficult jobs working-class men do.’
      • ‘Some time later he experienced hard times and was forced to sell some of his land.’
      harsh, grim, difficult, bad, bleak, dire, tough, austere, unpleasant, disagreeable, uncomfortable, intolerable, unendurable, unbearable, insupportable
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    3. 3.3 Difficult to understand or solve:
      ‘this is a really hard question’
    4. 3.4 Not showing sympathy or affection; strict:
      ‘he can be such a hard taskmaster’
      • ‘Gilbert is a hard taskmaster, but Murray certainly knew that before they got together.’
      • ‘He seemed a hard taskmaster, but he did it all for what he saw to be the ultimate good.’
      • ‘He is said by colleagues to be a hard taskmaster who does not tolerate failure.’
      • ‘Many liken him to a stern Victorian mill owner but there is a soft centre lurking within the hard exterior.’
      • ‘Taylor considers himself to be something of a hard taskmaster but he has been delighted with the response of his players.’
      • ‘She snatched the boy by his collar on his tunic, and half-dragged him the rest of the way up the hill, her face hard.’
      • ‘Not only is it a hard taskmaster, insatiable in the demands it makes on its followers, it often saves the best till last.’
      • ‘His voice was hard and harsh, strict and stern.’
      • ‘He has been portrayed in some quarters as a hard taskmaster who doesn't suffer fools gladly.’
      strict, harsh, firm, severe, stern, tough, rigorous, demanding, exacting, unkind, unfriendly, unsympathetic, cold, heartless, hard-hearted, cold-hearted, unfeeling, intransigent, unbending, uncompromising, inflexible, intolerant, implacable, stubborn, obdurate, unyielding, unrelenting, unsparing, lacking compassion, grim, ruthless, merciless, oppressive, tyrannical, pitiless, callous, cruel, vicious, unjust, unfair
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    5. 3.5 Denoting an extreme or dogmatic faction within a political party:
      ‘the hard left’
      • ‘There are local Liberals who say her own hard right faction was to blame.’
      • ‘He declares that he does not want to interpret her international activities within a hard left framework.’
      • ‘Independents can be of the anti-war left, but others come from the populist hard right.’
      • ‘Immediately after the armistice was signed an election in Paris returned a hard right government.’
      • ‘Thankfully, the moderate wing of the party split from the hard left and the Falklands War took care of the rest.’
    6. 3.6 (of a season or the weather) severe:
      ‘it's been a long, hard winter’
      • ‘They say the crows nested twice this year as there will be no food to feed the young next spring due to the hard weather.’
      • ‘If the concrete has not set and the rain is hard or the slope is steep, nobody will be happy.’
      • ‘They grow big and can often be caught in all weathers, even in hard winter conditions.’
      • ‘I could hear debris hitting the house and the rain was so hard I was sure we were in for a flood.’
      • ‘But there are two things that should be pointed out to those who really know about hard winters.’
      • ‘Two rhododendrons were about to bloom in the governor's garden, which looked as if it had survived a hard winter.’
      • ‘This can mean the difference between life and death during a hard winter.’
      • ‘During the first hard winters, the more delicate settlers had a smaller chance of staying alive.’
      • ‘It is a time characterised by a lack of vitamins in the human body after a hard winter.’
      • ‘Certainly the winters can be hard - but by all accounts not as bad as in the old days!’
      • ‘That's far too organised and impractical for us, though, as we have a long hard winter to get through.’
      • ‘Eiswein is made from grapes left on the vines until the first hard frost of winter.’
      • ‘After a very hard winter with huge amounts of snow the season had been expected to get under way later than usual.’
      • ‘If the rains are too hard, young plants and seedlings can be washed away.’
      • ‘Those words may have to console the goalkeeper through a long, hard winter.’
      • ‘In times gone by, a big year for berries was regarded as an indicator of a hard winter ahead but this it is not always the case.’
      • ‘Experts at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh had been fearing a hard winter.’
      • ‘All the bees had died and I had to build it up from scratch from one queen that survived a hard winter.’
      • ‘A hard rain while the vines are flowering will knock the blooms off the plant and reduce the size of the crop.’
      • ‘It could be a long, hard winter for people who rely on home heating oil to stay warm.’
      bitterly cold, cold, bitter, harsh, severe, extreme, bleak, freezing, icy, icy-cold, arctic, polar, siberian, glacial
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    7. 3.7 Harsh or unpleasant to the senses:
      ‘the hard light of morning’
      • ‘We drive for a while and suddenly there is a loud, hard noise, and people run in all directions.’
      • ‘Then there you are in the broken temple on top, in the hard sunshine, looking down on the world.’
      • ‘The church basement is cold and hard morning light breaks through high windows.’
      • ‘Looking out over this parched, shimmering landscape in the cold hard light of morning it's a miracle that anything survives here at all.’
      • ‘The house is cold and the car is cold and everything is cold, bright, hard and vacant.’
      harsh, grim, difficult, bad, bleak, dire, tough, austere, unpleasant, disagreeable, uncomfortable, intolerable, unendurable, unbearable, insupportable
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    8. 3.8 (of wine) harsh or sharp to the taste, especially because of tannin.
      • ‘A hard wine has not aged enough to achieve a proper balance.’
      • ‘If your wine is too hard, too tannic, too acidic, snap the pouring unit onto your bottle, pour the wine through it, and it will be altered into a better state by the magnets inside.’
      • ‘Too much tannin and the wine is hard and earthy.’
  • 4(of information) reliable, especially because based on something true or substantiated:

    ‘hard facts about the underclass are maddeningly elusive’
    • ‘Nevertheless, hard proof that he ordered the hijackings may never come to light.’
    • ‘I, for one, would need a lot more hard information before I could make my mind up about it.’
    • ‘We pointed out that this did not amount to hard evidence and that there could be other explanations for what we saw.’
    • ‘There is also no hard evidence to suggest that the UK economy will suffer because of a future skills shortage.’
    • ‘But there is no hard evidence that he ever met Richard, let alone searched for him across Europe.’
    • ‘The kinds of stories that go on the front page of newspapers are hard news.’
    • ‘When and how will they begin to retract their unambiguous presentation of the story as hard news?’
    • ‘There were constant rumours of further waves but there was no hard information as we had no radio or TV.’
    • ‘It is only a failure if we think that individuals should be detained on mere assertions and not on hard proof.’
    • ‘Of course, the papers were rife with opinion and speculation but cold hard facts were thin on the ground.’
    • ‘You couldn't actually put any real hard facts in this article could you?’
    • ‘I think the time has come to stop playing around and to seek out some hard information.’
    • ‘But there appears to be little hard evidence of pupils failing to turn up for the second paper.’
    • ‘Yet today those interest rate cuts were interpreted as hard proof that things must be bad.’
    • ‘But you really need to have hard proof of some sort if you wanted those theories to stick.’
    • ‘They both treated it in a clinical way, making sure to get the cold, hard facts reported.’
    • ‘It takes a special kind of mindset to be this delusional in the face of cold, hard facts.’
    • ‘The officer added that it was difficult for the police to name suspects now due to lack of hard evidence.’
    • ‘They realised we had hard evidence on what was happening and they promised to cooperate.’
    • ‘He urged investors to make their decisions based on hard information and not rumors.’
    reliable, definite, true, actual, confirmed, undeniable, indisputable, unquestionable, verifiable
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    1. 4.1 (of a subject of study) dealing with precise and verifiable facts:
      ‘efforts to turn psychology into hard science’
      • ‘But how far should we go to smuggle hard subjects into the minds of disaffected youth?’
      • ‘The hard sciences, for example, are at the cutting edge of economic development.’
      • ‘This makes him sound like Borges or Calvino, and in a sense he is, but with hard science to back him up.’
      • ‘With so little good hard science on the BBC it's a pity to see a good chunk of the budget go on something so lightweight.’
      • ‘There remains a common criticism that economics lacks the rigor to classify it as a hard science.’
    2. 4.2 (of science fiction) scientifically accurate rather than purely fantastic or whimsical:
      ‘a hard SF novel’
      • ‘My scientific background consists of a few relevant Carl Sagan books and hard sci-fi novels.’
      • ‘I do read a lot of sci-fi novels. There are two types: hard sci-fi and soft sci-fi.’
      • ‘The great exponents of hard SF in its heyday of the 1950s were Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke.’
      • ‘He has crafted more realistic versions of the cast that are much more appropriate for the series' hard sci-fi background.’
      • ‘This isn't a movie for fans of hard science fiction.’
  • 5Very potent, powerful, or intense, in particular:

    violent, forceful, heavy, mighty, vigorous, hefty, thunderous
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    1. 5.1 Strongly alcoholic; denoting a spirit rather than beer or wine.
      • ‘The forecast down Cancun way is positively sizzling and we have hard liquor and a Jacuzzi in our room, so the outlook is sunny.’
      • ‘I don't drink hard liquor anymore, it drives me insane with rage and I've ended up in jail too many times.’
      • ‘Beer is consumed as a typical light alcoholic beverage, while rum is the hard liquor of choice.’
      • ‘My daughter is not used to hard drink.’
      • ‘You can't drown problems in hard alcohol.’
      • ‘She prepares a cup with far more hard liquor than punch and returns to Frank's side.’
      • ‘Start guzzling hard liquor right off the bat and the binge is over before it started.’
      • ‘He offered it to her and when she took a swig the hard liquor burned down her throat.’
      • ‘Instead of hard spirits he was going to be downing shot glasses full of beer.’
      • ‘I try to stay away from hard liquor as I get started and don't know when to stop.’
      • ‘This is by far the best method ever of guaranteeing you get hard liquor into pretty much any event.’
      • ‘You can mix wine with beer and beer with hard liquor but not wine with hard liquor.’
      • ‘There are eight others, passing around a bottle of hard liquor.’
      alcoholic, strong, intoxicating, inebriating, stiff, potent, spirituous, vinous, intoxicant
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    2. 5.2 (of a drug) potent and addictive.
      • ‘Police chiefs insist they are winning the war on hard drugs by concentrating on the upper end of the narcotics crime scale.’
      • ‘I had a rough time and started drinking again; it wasn't long before I was back on hard drugs.’
      • ‘The court heard that he threw the stash of hard drugs out of the window when police called at the home of a friend on the Pewsham Estate.’
      • ‘A year later she said she came under the influence of her old friends and started taking hard drugs again.’
      • ‘A main reason for the change is that it is hoped it will free up police to concentrate on hard drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine.’
      • ‘Every recreational hard drug conceivable is washed down with booze, both bought and stolen.’
      • ‘Large quantities of soft drugs and hard drugs were found in the car of the eldest brother.’
      • ‘Think of the resources that could instead go into reducing the use and distribution of hard drugs.’
      • ‘The father-of-two, who had become involved with hard drugs, died from a gunshot wound to the chest.’
      • ‘We are also determined to break the link between crime and hard drugs.’
      • ‘For me a drug is a drug, no matter what, and soft drugs lead on to hard drugs.’
      • ‘There is weight to the argument that cannabis use leads to a greater chance of becoming involved with hard drugs.’
      • ‘We need a quantum leap in treatment and rehabilitation of young hard drug addicts.’
      • ‘Would you want a violent criminal using hard drugs living next to you and your kids?’
      • ‘There is fear its use will spread among the thousands of hard drug addicts in Dublin.’
      • ‘A grandad has claimed he has been labelled a dealer in hard drugs by a police leaflet campaign.’
      • ‘We know that many of those addicted to hard drugs commit a large proportion of property crime.’
      • ‘The extra officers will mean a harder life for those who deal in heroin and other hard drugs, he said.’
      • ‘It is true that nearly all users of hard drugs have previously used cannabis.’
      • ‘Lindsay recently admitted she would never try hard drugs after seeing how they affected her father.’
      addictive, habit-forming, causing dependency
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    3. 5.3 (of radiation) highly penetrating.
      • ‘There's no air, there's hard radiation, there's poison in the ground below you and of course, it's between 100 and 150 degrees below in centigrade.’
      • ‘I would think you'd need hard radiation to initiate the cascade, but that the decay product would be softer.’
      • ‘While travelling through a medium, hard radiation produces charged particles.’
    4. 5.4 (of pornography) highly obscene and explicit.
      • ‘Like other addictions, addiction to pornography reaches a point when even ‘hard’ pornography is not enough to produce the excitement the addict wants.’
      • ‘The film was never shown in Britain, where hard pornography was banned in cinemas, though plenty of people saw it on pirate videos at home.’
      • ‘There is a hard porn channel on the TV in the communal area of the hotel.’
  • 6(of water) containing mineral salts that make lathering difficult.

    • ‘I live in a hard water area and am concerned about the build-up of scale in the central heating system.’
    • ‘The dissolved salts in hard water have a similar effect, so soft water is advised.’
    • ‘However, the water was so hard that it could be used only for washing and cleaning purposes.’
    • ‘Moving from house to house to house, from area to area, I noticed how hard water and soft water affect the skin on my face.’
    • ‘Hard water is not a health hazard, but dealing with hard water in the home can be a nuisance.’
  • 7(of a consonant) pronounced as a velar plosive (as c in cat, g in go).

    • ‘Even their name has no hard consonant sounds.’
    • ‘Consonants are hard unless they are followed by a soft vowel.’
    • ‘Of course I knew the title of the anthem, but I have never been able to pronounce it: too many hard consonants in succession for my Latin vocal cords.’
    • ‘The shorter word with a hard consonant at it's face seemed most fitting.’
    • ‘Have you ever noticed how all the truly bigoted expressions are blessed with hard consonants?’


  • 1With a great deal of effort:

    ‘they work hard at school’
    • ‘He concentrated on his studies and worked hard because he wanted to get a good job.’
    • ‘They worked hard all week and it was a great all-round team effort to win it.’
    • ‘But they are all working very hard in the gym.’
    • ‘The match was hard fought with chances being missed by both sides.’
    • ‘You might get an even lower price if you bargain hard or are staying for a while.’
    • ‘Though working hard for the police force, Allison also found the time to give back to the community in her spare moments.’
    • ‘My sister is studying very hard, but still has not passed her university entrance exams.’
    • ‘It's an event I would dearly love to win again and I'll be trying hard this time round.’
    • ‘The kids are putting in the effort, working hard, but are being short-changed.’
    • ‘The teachers in this program are working hard to make sense of this mess, but the obstacles are great.’
    • ‘The city tries its best to be considerate to these students, who have studied hard for years.’
    • ‘Laura fought hard to breathe deeply and not panic.’
    • ‘With the election set to take place on Thursday of this week, Labour and the Lib Dems have been campaigning hard.’
    • ‘Every activist should fight hard to build the biggest possible vote against the deal.’
    • ‘I think that the committee worked very hard to put in a provision that was fair to everyone.’
    • ‘He's been training so hard and we're all really proud of the effort he's making.’
    • ‘The mayor also urged the children to study hard to prove that they deserved the scholarships.’
    • ‘Half of the peasants were forced to work hard and were charged with a variety of obligations.’
    • ‘I've worked and studied hard for my success, and know what's it's like to live on meagre funds.’
    • ‘Basically back then, all I really needed to do was study hard and ensure that I got good grades.’
    diligently, industriously, assiduously, conscientiously, sedulously, busily, intensely, enthusiastically, energetically, earnestly, persistently, doggedly, steadily, indefatigably, untiringly, all out, with application, with perseverance
    with difficulty, with effort, after a struggle, painfully, arduously, laboriously
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 With a great deal of force; violently:
      ‘it was raining hard’
      • ‘Quickly I dropped to one knee and punched him hard in his chest before he could stand.’
      • ‘Instead Brian grabbed me by my shirt and shoved me hard against the wall.’
      • ‘I throw my right hand out instinctively and whack it hard against the side of the door.’
      • ‘Before he could react, she punched him hard in the stomach.’
      • ‘Charlie tried to lift her head to look at the house but the wind was blowing too hard for her to do so.’
      • ‘For the moment I had to content myself with hitting him quite hard with my tennis racquet.’
      • ‘Once I did recover I pulled back and slapped him hard across the face.’
      • ‘It had been a glorious day, with the sun beating down hard and only a light wind on the loch.’
      • ‘My dad got up from his chair and slapped me hard across the face.’
      • ‘He quickly snatched the collar of Steven's shirt and shoved him hard against the wall.’
      • ‘His intensity is really appreciable and he hits the ball extremely hard.’
      • ‘I remember that, when the wind blew hard, it sounded almost as if somebody was crying.’
      • ‘He hit the ground incredibly hard and shattered both his legs but was otherwise unharmed aside from some bruising.’
      • ‘The guard was hit so hard that the blow left a dent on his safety helmet.’
      • ‘He hit Nicole so hard he fractured three ribs and ruptured her spleen.’
      • ‘It started blowing really hard, so we had to suspend operations for the day.’
      • ‘The car hit the kerb so hard the wheels were ripped off and split in two.’
      • ‘When the wind and rain blew hard they were forced to use all their strength just to keep from going overboard.’
      • ‘The wind was blowing quite hard, but there wasn't any rain coming from the total cloud cover.’
      • ‘The girl nodded at Simon and punched him so hard he was forced into one of the dirt walls.’
      severely, badly, intensely, harshly, acutely, deeply, keenly, seriously, profoundly, violently, forcefully, grievously, gravely
      heavily, strongly, intensely, in torrents, in sheets, cats and dogs
      forcefully, forcibly, fiercely, roughly, powerfully, strongly, strenuously, heavily, sharply, vigorously, intensely, energetically, with all one's might, with might and main, with vigour, with force, with great effort
      View synonyms
  • 2So as to be solid or firm:

    ‘the mortar has set hard’
    • ‘Everything is frozen hard and the snow lies on the ground all the time.’
    • ‘This was a material that once it set hard would not soften under heat.’
    • ‘There have been nights where there was sweat on my towel which has frozen rock hard while I've been training.’
    • ‘With the ground baked hard by the hot weather of the previous few days, there was nowhere for the water to go.’
    • ‘He was lying on his back with the rope around his waist stretched tightly to where it disappeared into snow that was now set hard as concrete.’
  • 3To the fullest extent possible:

    ‘put the wheel hard over to starboard’
    • ‘It hit with a deafening roar, punching the ship sideways so violently that it rolled hard over to port.’
    • ‘He heeled the car hard over to the right.’
    • ‘Most drivers were taught to pump the brakes and turn hard to the right or left in order to compensate for skidding.’
    hard, as hard as possible, for all one's worth, vigorously, with a vengeance, to the utmost, to the full, to the limit, all out
    View synonyms


  • A road leading down across a foreshore.

    • ‘At the Common Hard he was joined by Mr. Godwin, the friend and associate of his youth.’
    • ‘Where hards form part of a name they often do so in combination with an adjective or a person's name.’
    • ‘Although The Hard is not a designated town centre it is recognised as a specialist retail and leisure area.’


  • be hard on

    • 1Treat or criticize (someone) severely:

      ‘you're being too hard on her’
      • ‘Critics have been hard on what they believe to be unnecessary extravagance during a time of war.’
      • ‘‘As you progress,’ Jenas reflects, ‘you look back and see why people were hard on you.’’
      • ‘He could be vile to his dancers and Sally was hard on me.’
      • ‘He was a severe looking man who was known to be hard on his students.’
      • ‘He was hard on Franka, harder on her than anyone he had ever instructed.’
      • ‘But Nolan says the critics have been hard on his fellow Liverpudlian.’
      • ‘I was very effeminate as a child and my mother was hard on me for it, which left me with scars that I'm still working through.’
      • ‘It's always difficult to be hard on someone you love.’
      • ‘If it appears that I'm being hard on men, it is because I think I must.’
      • ‘It was more difficult than before to be hard on her.’
    • 2Be difficult for or unfair to:

      ‘it was hard on her, because she had to walk nearly a mile out of her way’
      • ‘It must be hard on her, because, if I know her, she'll be feeling responsible for her actions.’
      • ‘You went through those couple of months that must have been hard on you and your family.’
      • ‘It must have been hard on her to have to watch someone else doing her job and on top of that doing it badly, but she never said anything about it.’
      • ‘That must have been hard on the daughter when the mother is with someone you hate.’
      • ‘Dealing with a troubled sibling is hard on the whole family.’
      • ‘His mother died… that must have been hard on him.’
      • ‘‘I'm concerned about being away from my family and it is hard on them.’
      • ‘It was hard on the kids because they like to spend time with Steve.’
      • ‘For those of non-western cultures, the difficulty in getting a job is hard on them not only economically, but also psychologically.’
      • ‘My mother was a teacher, so she basically had to redo her qualifications, and Dad did a lot of travelling, so it was hard on her.’
    • 3Be likely to hurt or damage:

      ‘the monitor flickers, which is hard on the eyes’
      • ‘Formic acid, for example, must be handled with care and can be hard on some equipment.’
      • ‘Yet the work was hard on her hands, which bled regularly from cuts of the knives and grinder.’
      • ‘It must have been hard on the hands. ‘Not really,’ says Brooks, ‘it was the changing gear that could hurt.’’
      • ‘Several members had a go at plaiting straw with good results but said it was hard on the fingers.’
      • ‘Since the magazine steel is very hard, cutting was hard on tools until they found a shop that could do it with a laser.’
      • ‘Hanging on to the vine was hard on the hands and often produced blisters, despite the fact that our hands were well hardened with farm work.’
      • ‘Now I've changed the colour scheme, since some people mentioned that a white-on-dark design was hard on their eyes.’
      • ‘Flying is hard on your body and you have to make sure you're getting your rest, getting your fluids, and taking care of yourself.’
      • ‘My family thinks that it is a good profession, but difficult, because it is hard on your body.’
      • ‘Seaside salt wind is hard on its façades; its weather-beaten face is always in need of another coat of slap.’
  • be hard put (to it)

    • [usually with infinitive]Find it very difficult:

      ‘you'll be hard put to find a better compromise’
      • ‘Adam was hard put to gain control of his horse and regroup the cattle before they scattered again.’
      • ‘You would, it's true, be hard put to find a half-decent politician who didn't think himself or herself the answer to the country's problems.’
      • ‘If he means to stand, he would be hard put to find enough MPs to sign his card.’
      • ‘But one would be hard put to find a single article on poverty or unemployment in mainstream Indian newspapers in the past decade or more.’
      • ‘I think anyone, including myself, would be hard put to predict or even find a pattern.’
      • ‘Angry Christmas shoppers were hard put to find a space to park and ended up using every nook and cranny in the town centre to park their cars.’
      • ‘He said: ‘I would be hard put to find anyone else equal to his incredible ability.’’
      • ‘In the second world war, the shortage of paper meant that publishers were hard put to stay in business.’
      • ‘Children from a number of schools turned up in large numbers, and the volunteers were hard put to regulate the enthusiastic visitors.’
      • ‘You'd be hard put to it to find more friendly and welcoming people anywhere.’
  • give someone a hard time

    • informal Deliberately make a situation difficult for someone.

      • ‘They are people who do what is right when others give them a hard time for their beliefs.’
      • ‘One of the guests began giving me a hard time about the shirt.’
      • ‘When his turn comes, the workers will not give him a hard time or cause him trouble.’
      • ‘She treads a very fine line - the boss gives her a hard time and the boys give her a hard time, so she's sometimes in a no-win situation.’
      • ‘If the media's giving you a hard time, don't complain about it publicly.’
      • ‘The boys are giving me a hard time about all the publicity I'm getting.’
      • ‘Meanwhile my son is giving me a hard time for supporting the Australian cricketers.’
      • ‘He's a giant of a man and if you don't concentrate against him, he can give you a hard time.’
      • ‘Frank has been giving me a hard time for months about going to see her, because apparently every time he runs in to her she is just about in tears because I haven't visited.’
      • ‘He tells of one election meeting in Bristol on a steaming summer evening where one particular heckler was giving him a hard time.’
      annoy, irritate, infuriate, anger, incense, inflame, enrage, irk, chagrin, exasperate, madden, pique, provoke, nettle, disturb, upset, perturb, discompose, put out
      View synonyms
  • go hard with

    • dated Turn out to (someone's) disadvantage:

      ‘it would go hard with the poor’
      • ‘One of the two men had again prowled about the neighborhood and told him that unless he managed to get the boy away that night it would go hard with him.’
      • ‘One of the things that goes hard with Hetty in the trial is that she at first refuses to give her identity and obdurately denies that she ever had a baby, let alone killed it.’
      • ‘And if it goes hard with me, I will stand it, and I will cling to my logic, and I will bear it like a man.’
      • ‘Should such a creature encounter a swimming man it would go hard with the man.’
      • ‘Cutting a helpless throat, even when it belonged to scum like this, went hard with him.’
  • hard and fast

    • (of a rule or a distinction made) fixed and definitive:

      ‘there are no hard and fast rules about that’
      • ‘Like all rules governing taxation, the categories are never hard and fast.’
      • ‘The programme is mainly aimed at secondary school students, but there are no hard and fast rules and a number of primaries also take part.’
      • ‘I don't think there should be any hard and fast rules about this issue.’
      • ‘Yet that rule isn't always as hard and fast as it would seem and sometimes actually demands to be broken.’
      • ‘One of the few hard and fast rules of comedy is that puppets are always funny.’
      • ‘Readers are apt to assume a hard and fast distinction between novel and romance.’
      • ‘The hours either side of dawn and dusk are generally the best, although this is not a hard and fast rule.’
      • ‘If a child is bright they will learn quicker than another child but there are no hard and fast rules.’
      • ‘As far as age limits are concerned, there are no hard and fast rules.’
      • ‘In the few days he had been in the country, he had learned some very hard and fast rules.’
      definite, fixed, set, strict, rigid, binding, stringent, rigorous, clear-cut, cast-iron, established, inflexible, immutable, unalterable, invariable, unvarying, unchangeable, unchanging, incontestable, incontrovertible, uncompromising
      View synonyms
  • hard as nails

  • hard at it

    • informal Busily working or occupied:

      ‘they were hard at it with brooms and mops’
      • ‘We're hard at it, and we're making good progress.’
      • ‘On a sunlit morning, she is already hard at it in a corner of the old downtown premises of local fashion designer Tanya Carlson, where she's trying to finish up some work.’
      • ‘Just because I appear to be idle does not mean I am not hard at it.’
      • ‘There are undoubtedly a few Irish players, not to mention the coach himself, who could do without this trip to South Africa given that they've been hard at it now for almost 12 months.’
      • ‘Having been hard at it all the morning trying to cram a day's work into a few hours, I decided that a cup of coffee would be a great pick me up.’
      • ‘She's been hard at it since, working with Amnesty International and others to organise a public meeting.’
      • ‘They were still hard at it when I finally realised that I was surplus to requirements.’
      • ‘He's been hard at it since March, and the results have been positive.’
      • ‘The cast are hard at it with practising and preparation.’
      • ‘By 2004 you will be hard at it on the seniors circuit, both in Europe and the US and will have lost a lot of contact with the players.’
      engaged in, involved in, employed in, working at, labouring at, toiling at, slaving at, wrapped up, wrapped up in, wrapped up with
      View synonyms
  • hard by

    • Close to:

      ‘he lived hard by the cathedral’
      • ‘Here's a picture of my sunny destination - Tavira, hard by the Spanish border.’
      • ‘We lived hard by the factory and our windows gave on the factory yard.’
      • ‘The balloting took place in Westminster's Church House, hard by the House of Commons.’
      • ‘The undertaking establishment was on the Brompton Road hard by the chapel and nearby Trevor Square.’
      • ‘While I was there I went up around noon to a small church hard by the large harbour.’
      close to, right by, close by, beside, near, near to, nearby, not far from, a short distance from, a step away from, a stone's throw from, on the doorstep of, in the vicinity of, in the neighbourhood of, round the corner from, within easy reach of, adjacent to
      within spitting distance of, within sniffing distance of, a hop, skip, and a jump away from
      View synonyms
  • hard done by

    • Harshly or unfairly treated:

      ‘she would be justified in feeling hard done by’
      • ‘He seems, most of the time, like a man born to be hard done by.’
      • ‘Faced with the complex task of establishing which party is telling the truth, family court judges tend to defer to the mother, leaving fathers feeling hard done by and resentful.’
      • ‘These articles paint a picture of a poor retired couple that have been very hard done by and are in need of protection from neighbours.’
      • ‘By all accounts, the Scotland squad is feeling a little hard done by, and to a certain extent, you can understand why.’
      • ‘Several other players can feel hard done by to not make the shortlist but, after such a fine team performance, picking three players out was a near-impossible task.’
      • ‘However, they still have cause to feel a little hard done by.’
      • ‘Some people are going to feel hard done by, and speaking to them, they have very convincing arguments.’
      • ‘Annie sees herself as permanently hard done by.’
      • ‘‘I'm fed up feeling hard done by because we have only ourselves to blame,’ said Williamson.’
      • ‘I don't think Dad ever complained he'd been hard done by.’
  • hard feelings

    • [usually with negative]Feelings of resentment:

      ‘there are no hard feelings and we wish him well’
      • ‘He managed a weak smile before saying to her, ‘So no hard feelings about Sunday?’’
      • ‘Then she winks to let me know there are no hard feelings.’
      • ‘Fortunately there are absolutely no hard feelings.’
      • ‘It was just a short letter telling me there were no hard feelings, that he had nothing against me off the field and that what happened on the field was one thing and what happened off it was another.’
      • ‘He returns to face them this afternoon with no hard feelings.’
      • ‘He left them as politely as possible, and with no hard feelings.’
      • ‘We don't have any hard feelings for you or to anyone in the world, we just want to live in peace.’
      • ‘He had summoned my father to make peace, claiming through an intermediary that there were no hard feelings and that he didn't know what all the fuss was about.’
      • ‘He admitted he was disappointed to lose his place but insisted he had no hard feelings.’
      • ‘Sarah had firm ideas of what the garden should be like and challenged Matt over one or two of his ideas, forcing him to the return to the drawing board, but she insisted there were no hard feelings.’
      resentment, animosity, ill feeling, ill feelings, ill will, bitterness, bad blood, resentfulness, rancour, malice, acrimony, antagonism, antipathy, animus, friction, anger, hostility, hate, hatred
      View synonyms
  • hard going

    • Difficult to understand or enjoy:

      ‘the studying is at times hard going’
      • ‘The book runs to some 500 pages and I found it rather hard going.’
      • ‘But no matter how much fun you try to make it, it can be hard going.’
      • ‘The article is pretty hard going.’
      • ‘We started watching the film but found it hard going because it was getting late and we were tired.’
      • ‘It is hard going but it is something I will see through, even if it takes the rest of my life.’
      • ‘The statistics course is aimed at beginners, but I am finding it pretty hard going - and it is only day one.’
      • ‘A hefty tome like Ulysses may appear at first to be hard going.’
      • ‘I wasn't sure what to expect of the classes, and unfortunately I'm finding them hard going.’
      • ‘It was a fairly unconventional film, and I think a number of people including myself found it pretty hard going.’
      • ‘It's hard going at first - the descriptions are dense, poetic word-paintings - but once you're engaged with the characters you'll be hooked.’
  • hard hit

    • Badly affected:

      ‘Trinidad had been hard hit by falling oil prices’
      • ‘Millions of manufacturing jobs have been lost in this country but now the service industry is also being hard hit.’
      • ‘Small businesses are particularly hard hit because they cannot negotiate discounts like big companies.’
      • ‘But York was hard hit by the floods of a year ago, and many small business are still struggling to recover.’
      • ‘The company had been hard hit by rising steel and oil costs, and was struggling to raise prices for its products.’
      • ‘Agricultural land is being snapped up by investors, often wealthy farmers from the north of Ireland who have not been as hard hit by beef bans and food scares.’
      • ‘Food and drink, tourism and manufacturing have been particularly hard hit.’
      • ‘Louisiana towns just east of the Texas border were particularly hard hit by the storm surges and flooding.’
      • ‘The cotton, tobacco and beef industries were particularly hard hit.’
      • ‘The tourism and entertainment industries have been hard hit by the falloff in air travel.’
      • ‘Some have been hard hit by major retail and out-of-town superstores.’
  • hard luck (or lines)

    • informal Used to express sympathy or commiserations:

      ironic ‘if you don't like it then hard luck’
      • ‘I say what I think and, unfortunately, if you don't like it, it's hard luck.’
      • ‘Congratulations to the Armagh U - 21 team who won the All-Ireland last Saturday and hard luck to the Mayo team.’
      • ‘‘It is hard luck on those who have not made it but competition for places is very strong and it is a healthy situation to be in,’ said Byas.’
      • ‘The invites have been sent out, if you didn't get one hard luck, but I'm sure there are plenty more out there.’
      • ‘So Baz, hard luck, maybe better luck next time, but I did say you were backing the wrong team.’
      • ‘If the weather should be bad, as it often is, then hard luck; that was your compulsory day off and you can't have it on another day instead.’
      • ‘Congratulations to the ladies who won the Ladies Basketball county final and hard luck to the men's team who were defeated in the Men's Basketball final.’
      • ‘It's just hard luck if you are an elderly person who doesn't move that quickly, or some tired and overburdened shopper.’
      • ‘So if you're hungry, hard luck, although certainly pay a visit if you value a decent pint and good company in congenial surroundings.’
      • ‘If you live on the wrong side of the road and rely on your post, hard luck!’
  • a hard nut to crack

    • see nut
      • ‘I know it's going to be a hard nut to crack but we can't just ignore it.’
      • ‘Whenever anyone says to me ‘You're a hard nut to crack,’ it just makes me more wary.’
      • ‘I prove a hard nut to crack and stand firm, so she tries out my other teammates.’
      • ‘Linda is soon to learn that Jennifer is a hard nut to crack.’
      • ‘Your friends may find you remote and a hard nut to crack.’
  • hard of hearing

    • Not able to hear well.

      • ‘Judges have ruled that he is hard of hearing rather than deaf, despite medical evidence proving he cannot hear anything.’
      • ‘He may be hard of hearing but his brain is as sharp as ever.’
      • ‘I think my ears are clogged up with wax, as I have been a bit hard of hearing lately.’
      • ‘Helen has been a carer for her mum, who is hard of hearing and is severely disabled with arthritis, for the past 11 years.’
      • ‘One of the twins was hard of hearing and the other could hear quite well.’
      • ‘Although suffering from failing eyesight and being a touch hard of hearing, the great grandmother has retained an acute memory of her childhood days.’
      • ‘Over half of people aged over 60 are hard of hearing or deaf.’
      • ‘He is hard of hearing and needs someone to translate his speech.’
      • ‘Not all people who are hard of hearing read lips or use sign language.’
      • ‘Some of us are hard of hearing and could not hear the officer in the car going by.’
      hard of hearing, hearing-impaired, with impaired hearing, unhearing, stone deaf, deafened, profoundly deaf
      View synonyms
  • hard on (or upon)

    • Close to; following soon after:

      ‘hard on the heels of Wimbledon comes the Henley Regatta’
      • ‘The General Strike in England was in 1926, when Auden was nineteen, and it was followed hard upon by the Depression.’
      • ‘These excellent results are following hard on the heels of an impressive Oftsed report.’
      • ‘The move follows hard on the heels of an acquisition which has seen business gains in the west of Scotland.’
      • ‘The trainer was philosophical about his victory coming hard on the heels of his loss.’
      • ‘At any other time there would be a protracted period of recollection, but the election is hard upon us.’
      • ‘On the field tragedy follows hard upon triumph, ease and discomfort sit side by side…’
      • ‘Stacks of musty books were no substitute for the fresh, clean air of the season, but exams were hard upon us, and there was no time to stop and smell the flowers, not unless we scheduled it in between study sessions.’
      • ‘This announcement follows hard upon the October announcement of a restructuring plan.’
      soon after, hard on the heels of, quickly after, promptly after, shortly after, immediately after, directly after, straight after, right after, a short time after, without delay after
      View synonyms
  • hard up

    • informal Short of money:

      ‘I'm too hard up to buy fancy clothes’
      • ‘It really worries me when relatives buy you something even though you know they are hard up.’
      • ‘I think that's probably insulting to people who are genuinely really, really hard up.’
      • ‘I was very hard up when I was at school and university.’
      • ‘And as unreliable as official statistics are, there can be no doubt that far too many people are hard up.’
      • ‘Thankfully, I've never been truly hard up, but some of the 1980s were a bit tough.’
      • ‘He could be very generous - lending money to hard up locals, or secretly dropping off a carton of groceries at someone's back door.’
      • ‘But, to be honest, I would have to say I've never been really hard up.’
      • ‘I have always been keen to earn money, so while I couldn't say I have ever been really hard up, it's because I have worked to make sure I'm not.’
      • ‘Don't use the excuse of being hard up as a reason for not doing it.’
      • ‘Virtually overnight, they were out of business and very, very hard up.’
      poor, short of money, short of cash, impoverished, impecunious, in financial difficulties, financially embarrassed, financially distressed, in reduced circumstances, in straitened circumstances, unable to make ends meet
      penniless, moneyless, destitute, poverty-stricken, bankrupt, in the red, without a sou, without means of support
      broke, stony broke, flat broke, bust, on one's beam-ends
      skint, cleaned out, strapped for cash, on one's uppers, not having two farthings to rub together, not having two pennies to rub together, in queer street, without a shot in one's locker, without a brass farthing
      stone broke, without a red cent
      View synonyms
  • the hard way

    • Through suffering or learning from the unpleasant consequences of mistakes:

      ‘you're going to learn the hard way who you're up against’
      • ‘I learned the hard way just how critically important it is to always wear a seat belt.’
      • ‘Victory will be earned the hard way, and in the end it may come down to the survival of the fittest.’
      • ‘It is good advice and given by people who have learned their lesson the hard way.’
      • ‘But it's hard to see him working his way up the hard way, heading out for a council meeting on a scooter.’
      • ‘It was a title he earned the hard way; in fact, nobody had to work harder to win a World title.’
      • ‘We learnt the hard way that being rude to colleagues is no way to behave.’
      • ‘It was a gutsy display and the home side earned their three points the hard way.’
      • ‘During the last recession, however, everyone learned the hard way that prices could fall.’
      • ‘He was very clear in his views and showed that he had learnt the game the hard way.’
      • ‘He learned the hard way when to take on the system and when to tolerate it.’
  • play hard to get

    • informal Deliberately adopt an aloof or uninterested attitude, typically in order to make oneself more attractive or interesting.

      • ‘Julie was still playing hard to get and Bryce was too proud to admit that his girlfriend overpowered him.’
      • ‘They are playing hard to get with the media, and are keeping us all interested.’
      • ‘Girls should have the confidence to play hard to get, to wait until they find a mate who matches their demands rather than giving in so easily.’
      • ‘Sometimes when dates played hard to get, it made the chase more interesting and the inevitable surrender more satisfying.’
      • ‘What could be more perverse than playing hard to get when looking for the one we can really open up to?’
      • ‘‘He tried to talk to me for a while after we met, but I was playing hard to get,’ she said with a slight smile.’
      • ‘In this love affair, like many others, playing hard to get can only make for a better relationship.’
      • ‘I bet you're one of those girls who plays hard to get.’
      • ‘While I know logically that it's safest to play hard to get, to keep my heart locked away so that no one can hurt me, that's just not who I am.’
      • ‘After months of being cautious and playing hard to get, I'm going to bravely risk rejection this time.’
  • put the hard word on

    • 1informal Ask a favour of (someone), especially a sexual or financial one.

      • ‘If you're looking for a government grant, I'd stop him after the show to put the hard word on him.’
      • ‘If I put the hard word on any of my students or colleagues I supervise I deserve to be booted out of my job because I am potentially exploiting my authority.’
      • ‘Then a couple of boozed-up blokes who put the hard word on Jen decide to take you on despite a large spanner in your hand and things really kick off.’
      1. 1.1Put pressure on (someone).
        • ‘There is a precedent for putting the hard word on a government staffer to give evidence to a Senate committee.’
        • ‘I was a bit wary of putting up such a thing uncensored, especially as it seemed so out of whack with mainstream media reports, but my brother put the hard word on me, and I succumbed.’
        • ‘In any event, the Government's going to be putting the hard word on the Labor Council and the public sector unions: there'll be no room for wage increases in this budget cycle.’
        • ‘She put the hard word on me to come out later that night to see a gig her boy was performing in.’


Old English hard, heard, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch hard and German hart.