Definition of hardly in US 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.’
    • ‘Rather and company may have been fed phony documents, but the basic story is obviously true and hardly disputed.’
    • ‘I wasn't always a Bowie fan, and, to be honest, I'm hardly qualified to call myself one today.’
    • ‘Frans Snyders's Concert of Birds hardly qualifies even as second-rate.’
    • ‘A degree in theatre arts hardly qualifies me as a nutritionist or a psychologist.’
    • ‘To those who read the early version of this, yes its true I can hardly think nor spell today.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The next two decades saw a blossoming of academic philosophy on a scale hardly imaginable just a short time earlier.’
    • ‘Perhaps this is why beauty hardly qualifies as an aesthetic category any more.’
    • ‘Even that hardly ensures true objectivity - whatever that is - but it's probably the best we can hope for.’
    • ‘Now, Sara and I hardly qualify as informed critics of modern television.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As time went by, a subtle change began to overtake her, transforming her by degrees into another person hardly recognizable to her children.’
    • ‘Like a true Melbourne audience hardly anyone at all got up to flee from the rain.’
    • ‘If true, it's hardly inspirational to the troops.’
    • ‘Sorry, I have to go, and this hardly even qualifies as a post, back later…’
    • ‘His mother, Francis Fiddler, was so stunned by the news last night that she could hardly believe it was true.’
    • ‘Although I knew that technically wasn't true because I had hardly been there for her since Danny died.’
    • ‘Looking at Qin Yi's wrinkle-free face and her smooth, white complexion, one can hardly guess her true age.’
    • ‘If Judas were among the saved, these statements could hardly be true.’
    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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The reforms of the NHS may have tested his ability to carry the party with him but they have hardly begun.’
      • ‘Southwell had hardly sat down when the price was being paid, with Jerry Flannery on the tail end of an irresistible maul.’
      • ‘I mean, a person can hardly sit down today without a movie or without music or something going on.’
      • ‘Kitano had hardly sat foot in Venice, before a invitation only press screening and later the same day the first public screening took place.’
      • ‘He had hardly sat down and received his fork before starting to wolf down her home-cooked meal.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2 Only with great difficulty.
      ‘she could hardly sit up’
      ‘I nodded, hardly able to breath’
      • ‘She could hardly think straight as the sleepiness overwhelmed her.’
      • ‘Employees can hardly sit, idly waiting for new work to come along.’
      • ‘Now the 15-year-old club-mates can hardly bear to sit and watch the Games at home on television.’
      • ‘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 could hardly sit down the whole of the next day.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We could hardly eat, never sit still, and chattered endlessly about the hopes and possibilities for Christmas Day.’
      • ‘I could hardly see even straight ahead - the netting was against my eyes, so that I couldn't ignore it.’
      • ‘She was so worn out she could hardly see straight, but she couldn't take her eyes from the stars.’
      • ‘She gets a terrible pain every time she tries to walk, and yet she is very restless, and can hardly stand to sit still.’
      • ‘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 walk to the old chair that hardly still stands and sit down.’
      • ‘By lunch I could hardly sit still, I was on this crazy sugar rush that couldn't be contained.’
      • ‘By the time I got there, the rhythm section were the only ones left and hardly able to see straight.’
      • ‘I can hardly sit on it without squeaks of joy… and I really dig the lamp they paired it with.’
      • ‘I staggered around in my kitchen for a few minutes holding my gut while I laughed because I could hardly sit on my chair!’
      • ‘We could hardly keep our faces straight and some of the musicians at the back desks laughed behind their music wholeheartedly.’
      • ‘Like a child with a new toy, his spirit rose with each idea the group generated until he could hardly sit in his chair.’
      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’
      • ‘The casting of a man in the role of Miss Pink had no apparent intended significance, yet it could hardly be insignificant.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But the maxim that you can fall in love at any age could hardly be more true than for James Foster and Barbara Scott.’
      • ‘A rushed survey with a very small participation rate hardly qualifies as full consultation.’
      • ‘Bomb making and inciting riots hardly qualify as youthful follies.’
      • ‘The higher ups never really considered the pressure they'd heaped on her but what I did hardly qualified as heroism.’
      • ‘That was, in many ways true, but it hardly justifies colonization.’
      • ‘While there is nothing objectionable about such sponsorship, it hardly qualifies as community involvement.’
      • ‘It looked enormous, and even if you accept the police figure for some obscure reason, 45,000 is hardly an insignificant number.’
      • ‘This sort of thing is rampant in the public sector though so hardly qualifies as news.’
      • ‘But that's hardly a true picture of what was available in that much-maligned decade.’
      • ‘If it's true this was hardly a classic, it was a no holds barred derby with the occasional touch of class.’
      • ‘Nonetheless, despite the seemingly narrow focus, this outline is hardly insignificant.’
      • ‘A person who is in the throes of an addiction is hardly qualified to make that decision.’
      • ‘In sharp contrast, across the mass-media landscape, average workers hardly qualify as noble.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I think it's a salutory consequence, hardly insignificant, but it's not Job One.’
      • ‘That hardly qualifies as an irrational act of an immoderate president.’
      • ‘Now, I think we can all agree that one of the closest elections in history can hardly qualify as a blowout.’
      • ‘Some bloggers don't write very well, but that hardly qualifies as poetry.’
      • ‘Still, at 58 degrees, that was hardly bath water lapping onto the sand near SeaWalk Pavilion.’
      • ‘Many do drink to excess on special occasions, but this hardly qualifies as dangerous binging.’
      • ‘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!’
      • ‘The binding nature of the court's legal opinion is hardly a matter of true concern for Zionists.’
      • ‘But these murderers are hardly qualified to judge what is a ‘hate crime’ and what is not.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Writing and ranting that is neither clever nor funny hardly qualifies as banter.’
      • ‘True, she is hardly a representative working mum - whatever that might be.’
  • 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 grammatical rule of standard English that double negatives are not acceptable. Words like hardly behave as negatives in other respects as well, as for example in combining with terms such as any or at all, which normally occur only 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’
        • ‘Boxing, or rather a raw version of it with no gloves and hardly any rules, was part of the Ancient Games programme.’
        • ‘Until a few days ago, there was hardly any news in Danish newspapers and magazines about elections in India.’
        • ‘There is hardly any discussion of how to deal with global warming while generating substantial economic growth at the same time.’
        • ‘In 1979, there were hardly any production companies and none of us were on the radar at that point.’
        • ‘There is hardly any inflation and the trade deficit is not as high as could have been expected.’
        • ‘At first this sounds truly minimal: slow-moving layers of overlapping sound with hardly any pulse.’
        • ‘He's in fact been all but invisible of late making hardly any public appearances.’
        • ‘There were people like that in my village too, as a child, but hardly any to speak of, and possibly none now.’
        • ‘There was hardly any wind at the start and to add to frustrations, north lake was busy as holidaymakers took advantage of the heatwave.’
        • ‘There were hardly any students of science or scientists in their ranks.’
        little, little or no, minimal, hardly any, limited, negligible, barely sufficient, meagre
        View synonyms
  • hardly ever

    • Very rarely.

      ‘we hardly ever see them’
      • ‘We can hold our liquor and hardly ever shoot each other unless it's important.’
      • ‘That is probably why police reports are always lacking and the officers hardly ever show up at court.’
      • ‘The secret ballot has remained the envy of the world and the integrity of election results hardly ever questioned.’
      • ‘Children I know spend more time playing on computers and hardly ever read books.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The children are hardly ever picked up by the staff, or played with and many, including Ludmylla, were ill.’
      • ‘Dover Samuels is history, as are a bunch of Labour Maori MPs I have hardly ever heard of.’
      • ‘I was surprised, but he has always been fit and is hardly ever injured.’
      • ‘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.’
      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

/ˈhɑrdli//ˈhärdlē/