Definition of hardly in English:

hardly

adverb

  • 1Scarcely (used to qualify a statement by saying that it is true to an insignificant degree)

    ‘the little house in which he lived was hardly bigger than a hut’
    ‘a thing hardly bigger than a credit card’
    ‘we hardly know each other’
    • ‘The short multi-party history, however, shows that this desire hardly comes true and is never realized for long.’
    • ‘Sorry, I have to go, and this hardly even qualifies as a post, back later…’
    • ‘It all seemed like a mad dream that couldn't possibly be true but also could hardly be otherwise, and Sophia couldn't escape it.’
    • ‘Even that hardly ensures true objectivity - whatever that is - but it's probably the best we can hope for.’
    • ‘The next two decades saw a blossoming of academic philosophy on a scale hardly imaginable just a short time earlier.’
    • ‘Rather and company may have been fed phony documents, but the basic story is obviously true and hardly disputed.’
    • ‘To those who read the early version of this, yes its true I can hardly think nor spell today.’
    • ‘If true, it's hardly inspirational to the troops.’
    • ‘A degree in theatre arts hardly qualifies me as a nutritionist or a psychologist.’
    • ‘Now, Sara and I hardly qualify as informed critics of modern television.’
    • ‘Perhaps this is why beauty hardly qualifies as an aesthetic category any more.’
    • ‘His mother, Francis Fiddler, was so stunned by the news last night that she could hardly believe it was true.’
    • ‘As time went by, a subtle change began to overtake her, transforming her by degrees into another person hardly recognizable to her children.’
    • ‘Frans Snyders's Concert of Birds hardly qualifies even as second-rate.’
    • ‘It is true hardly anyone waits a year for surgery any more but the average wait is still 49 days, compared with 43 in 1999.’
    • ‘Like a true Melbourne audience hardly anyone at all got up to flee from the rain.’
    • ‘Although I knew that technically wasn't true because I had hardly been there for her since Danny died.’
    • ‘I wasn't always a Bowie fan, and, to be honest, I'm hardly qualified to call myself one today.’
    • ‘If Judas were among the saved, these statements could hardly be true.’
    • ‘Looking at Qin Yi's wrinkle-free face and her smooth, white complexion, one can hardly guess her true age.’
    scarcely, barely, only just, not much, faintly, narrowly, slightly, rarely, little
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Only a very short time before.
      ‘the party had hardly started when the police arrived’
      • ‘Kitano had hardly sat foot in Venice, before a invitation only press screening and later the same day the first public screening took place.’
      • ‘Southwell had hardly sat down when the price was being paid, with Jerry Flannery on the tail end of an irresistible maul.’
      • ‘He had hardly sat down and received his fork before starting to wolf down her home-cooked meal.’
      • ‘The reforms of the NHS may have tested his ability to carry the party with him but they have hardly begun.’
      • ‘I mean, a person can hardly sit down today without a movie or without music or something going on.’
      • ‘She wanted so badly to go to this strange man and his lessons that she could hardly sit down without getting up a second later.’
      • ‘We can hardly sit down in the food court without at least one group of girls coming over and asking for our numbers or telling us we were cute.’
    2. 1.2 Only with great difficulty.
      ‘she could hardly sit up’
      ‘I nodded, hardly able to breath’
      • ‘Michael was hardly able to think straight as he started to feel the effects of the pills, his vision foggy, and his mind a total mess.’
      • ‘Like a child with a new toy, his spirit rose with each idea the group generated until he could hardly sit in his chair.’
      • ‘She could hardly think straight as the sleepiness overwhelmed her.’
      • ‘We could hardly eat, never sit still, and chattered endlessly about the hopes and possibilities for Christmas Day.’
      • ‘By the time I got there, the rhythm section were the only ones left and hardly able to see straight.’
      • ‘By lunch I could hardly sit still, I was on this crazy sugar rush that couldn't be contained.’
      • ‘How on earth can someone who can hardly stand up straight be expected to work out how drunk they are and then decide how to get themselves home on the basis of that?’
      • ‘I could hardly sit down the whole of the next day.’
      • ‘I staggered around in my kitchen for a few minutes holding my gut while I laughed because I could hardly sit on my chair!’
      • ‘I walk to the old chair that hardly still stands and sit down.’
      • ‘She gets a terrible pain every time she tries to walk, and yet she is very restless, and can hardly stand to sit still.’
      • ‘I could hardly stand it, sitting around another hour or so with the adults.’
      • ‘I've ridden bikes for years, but nothing compares to this pain - I've hardly sat down for days.’
      • ‘I can hardly sit on it without squeaks of joy… and I really dig the lamp they paired it with.’
      • ‘Employees can hardly sit, idly waiting for new work to come along.’
      • ‘She was so worn out she could hardly see straight, but she couldn't take her eyes from the stars.’
      • ‘Now the 15-year-old club-mates can hardly bear to sit and watch the Games at home on television.’
      • ‘We could hardly keep our faces straight and some of the musicians at the back desks laughed behind their music wholeheartedly.’
      • ‘Barrie Rutter is in his element as a Sir John whose artificial belly means he can hardly get up or sit down, yet is always ready to caper at a lady.’
      • ‘I could hardly see even straight ahead - the netting was against my eyes, so that I couldn't ignore it.’
      only with difficulty, barely, scarcely, only with effort, only just, almost not
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 No or not (suggesting surprise at or disagreement with a statement)
      ‘I hardly think so’
      • ‘It may be reasonable, but it hardly qualifies as a competent choice, even if it is successful.’
      • ‘The ‘big fat’ series hardly qualifies as reality, nor does Survivor, for that matter!’
      • ‘While there is nothing objectionable about such sponsorship, it hardly qualifies as community involvement.’
      • ‘Kennedy is fully entitled to conduct his crusade to humble the medical profession, but this level of zeal hardly qualifies him for the conduct of a public inquiry.’
      • ‘The higher ups never really considered the pressure they'd heaped on her but what I did hardly qualified as heroism.’
      • ‘True, she is hardly a representative working mum - whatever that might be.’
      • ‘Bomb making and inciting riots hardly qualify as youthful follies.’
      • ‘Many do drink to excess on special occasions, but this hardly qualifies as dangerous binging.’
      • ‘A rushed survey with a very small participation rate hardly qualifies as full consultation.’
      • ‘In sharp contrast, across the mass-media landscape, average workers hardly qualify as noble.’
      • ‘Nonetheless, despite the seemingly narrow focus, this outline is hardly insignificant.’
      • ‘Some bloggers don't write very well, but that hardly qualifies as poetry.’
      • ‘The casting of a man in the role of Miss Pink had no apparent intended significance, yet it could hardly be insignificant.’
      • ‘Now, I think we can all agree that one of the closest elections in history can hardly qualify as a blowout.’
      • ‘If it's true this was hardly a classic, it was a no holds barred derby with the occasional touch of class.’
      • ‘But these murderers are hardly qualified to judge what is a ‘hate crime’ and what is not.’
      • ‘It looked enormous, and even if you accept the police figure for some obscure reason, 45,000 is hardly an insignificant number.’
      • ‘Still, at 58 degrees, that was hardly bath water lapping onto the sand near SeaWalk Pavilion.’
      • ‘But that's hardly a true picture of what was available in that much-maligned decade.’
      • ‘I think it's a salutory consequence, hardly insignificant, but it's not Job One.’
      • ‘Writing and ranting that is neither clever nor funny hardly qualifies as banter.’
      • ‘This sort of thing is rampant in the public sector though so hardly qualifies as news.’
      • ‘But the maxim that you can fall in love at any age could hardly be more true than for James Foster and Barbara Scott.’
      • ‘Even if true, that hardly proves the point that we should continue to turn a blind eye to those who are cheating the system.’
      • ‘University administrators worry that too many students pursue business degrees, hardly a path of activism.’
      • ‘That was, in many ways true, but it hardly justifies colonization.’
      • ‘The binding nature of the court's legal opinion is hardly a matter of true concern for Zionists.’
      • ‘A person who is in the throes of an addiction is hardly qualified to make that decision.’
      • ‘True, he was hardly put under pressure at the back but at least he busied himself around the field and was a particular threat up front.’
      • ‘The surly behaviour of the United camp to the foreign media has hardly qualified as a charm offensive on either front.’
      • ‘That hardly qualifies as an irrational act of an immoderate president.’
      • ‘Now being a Texas resident for the past five years might make me a citizen of the state, but it hardly qualifies me as a true Texan.’
  • 2archaic Harshly.

    ‘the rule worked hardly’

Usage

Words like hardly, scarcely, and rarely should not be used with negative constructions. Thus, it is correct to say I can hardly wait but incorrect to say I can't hardly wait. This is because adverbs like hardly are treated as if they were negatives, and it is a well-known grammatical rule of standard English that double negatives (i.e. in this case having hardly and not in the same clause) are not acceptable. Words like hardly behave as negatives in other respects as well, as for example in combining with words like any or at all, which normally only occur where a negative is present (thus, standard usage is I've got hardly any money but not I've got any money). See also double negative

Phrases

  • hardly any

    • 1Almost no.

      ‘they sold hardly any books’
      1. 1.1Almost none.
        ‘hardly any had previous convictions’
        • ‘In 1979, there were hardly any production companies and none of us were on the radar at that point.’
        • ‘There were hardly any students of science or scientists in their ranks.’
        • ‘There were people like that in my village too, as a child, but hardly any to speak of, and possibly none now.’
        • ‘There is hardly any discussion of how to deal with global warming while generating substantial economic growth at the same time.’
        • ‘There is hardly any inflation and the trade deficit is not as high as could have been expected.’
        • ‘Until a few days ago, there was hardly any news in Danish newspapers and magazines about elections in India.’
        • ‘There was hardly any wind at the start and to add to frustrations, north lake was busy as holidaymakers took advantage of the heatwave.’
        • ‘Boxing, or rather a raw version of it with no gloves and hardly any rules, was part of the Ancient Games programme.’
        • ‘He's in fact been all but invisible of late making hardly any public appearances.’
        • ‘At first this sounds truly minimal: slow-moving layers of overlapping sound with hardly any pulse.’
        little, little or no, minimal, hardly any, limited, negligible, barely sufficient, meagre
        View synonyms
  • hardly ever

    • Very rarely.

      ‘we hardly ever see them’
      • ‘Dover Samuels is history, as are a bunch of Labour Maori MPs I have hardly ever heard of.’
      • ‘We can hold our liquor and hardly ever shoot each other unless it's important.’
      • ‘Children I know spend more time playing on computers and hardly ever read books.’
      • ‘I was surprised, but he has always been fit and is hardly ever injured.’
      • ‘The children are hardly ever picked up by the staff, or played with and many, including Ludmylla, were ill.’
      • ‘That is probably why police reports are always lacking and the officers hardly ever show up at court.’
      • ‘Look at tennis, where in any week there are as many as four or five events and the star names hardly ever compete against each other.’
      • ‘Even where there are suspects who are charged, cases hardly ever get concluded.’
      • ‘In fact, they hardly ever come to buy anything from my shop and even if they do I refuse to sell anything to them.’
      • ‘The secret ballot has remained the envy of the world and the integrity of election results hardly ever questioned.’
      rarely, infrequently, on rare occasions, hardly ever, scarcely ever, hardly, scarcely, almost never, once in a while, every once in a while, only now and then, not often, only occasionally, sporadically
      View synonyms

Pronunciation

hardly

/ˈhɑːdli/