Definition of hardly in English:



  • 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’
    • ‘Sorry, I have to go, and this hardly even qualifies as a post, back later…’
    • ‘The short multi-party history, however, shows that this desire hardly comes true and is never realized for long.’
    • ‘Looking at Qin Yi's wrinkle-free face and her smooth, white complexion, one can hardly guess her true age.’
    • ‘The next two decades saw a blossoming of academic philosophy on a scale hardly imaginable just a short time earlier.’
    • ‘Frans Snyders's Concert of Birds hardly qualifies even as second-rate.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A degree in theatre arts hardly qualifies me as a nutritionist or a psychologist.’
    • ‘Although I knew that technically wasn't true because I had hardly been there for her since Danny died.’
    • ‘Perhaps this is why beauty hardly qualifies as an aesthetic category any more.’
    • ‘I wasn't always a Bowie fan, and, to be honest, I'm hardly qualified to call myself one today.’
    • ‘To those who read the early version of this, yes its true I can hardly think nor spell today.’
    • ‘Rather and company may have been fed phony documents, but the basic story is obviously true and hardly disputed.’
    • ‘If true, it's hardly inspirational to the troops.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘If Judas were among the saved, these statements could hardly be true.’
    • ‘Even that hardly ensures true objectivity - whatever that is - but it's probably the best we can hope for.’
    • ‘His mother, Francis Fiddler, was so stunned by the news last night that she could hardly believe it was true.’
    • ‘Now, Sara and I hardly qualify as informed critics of modern television.’
    scarcely, barely, only just, not much, faintly, narrowly, slightly, rarely, little
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    1. 1.1Only a very short time before.
      ‘the party had hardly started when the police arrived’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I mean, a person can hardly sit down today without a movie or without music or something going on.’
      • ‘He had hardly sat down and received his fork before starting to wolf down her home-cooked meal.’
      • ‘Southwell had hardly sat down when the price was being paid, with Jerry Flannery on the tail end of an irresistible maul.’
      • ‘Kitano had hardly sat foot in Venice, before a invitation only press screening and later the same day the first public screening took place.’
      • ‘The reforms of the NHS may have tested his ability to carry the party with him but they have hardly begun.’
    2. 1.2Only with great difficulty.
      ‘she could hardly sit up’
      ‘I nodded, hardly able to breath’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I could hardly see even straight ahead - the netting was against my eyes, so that I couldn't ignore it.’
      • ‘We could hardly keep our faces straight and some of the musicians at the back desks laughed behind their music wholeheartedly.’
      • ‘By the time I got there, the rhythm section were the only ones left and hardly able to see straight.’
      • ‘She could hardly think straight as the sleepiness overwhelmed her.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Like a child with a new toy, his spirit rose with each idea the group generated until he could hardly sit in his chair.’
      • ‘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 eat, never sit still, and chattered endlessly about the hopes and possibilities for Christmas 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.’
      • ‘Employees can hardly sit, idly waiting for new work to come along.’
      • ‘By lunch I could hardly sit still, I was on this crazy sugar rush that couldn't be contained.’
      • ‘I could hardly stand it, sitting around another hour or so with the adults.’
      • ‘I can hardly sit on it without squeaks of joy… and I really dig the lamp they paired it with.’
      • ‘Now the 15-year-old club-mates can hardly bear to sit and watch the Games at home on television.’
      only with difficulty, barely, scarcely, only with effort, only just, almost not
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    3. 1.3No or not (suggesting surprise at or disagreement with a statement)
      ‘I hardly think so’
      • ‘The ‘big fat’ series hardly qualifies as reality, nor does Survivor, for that matter!’
      • ‘University administrators worry that too many students pursue business degrees, hardly a path of activism.’
      • ‘Nonetheless, despite the seemingly narrow focus, this outline is hardly insignificant.’
      • ‘Many do drink to excess on special occasions, but this hardly qualifies as dangerous binging.’
      • ‘But these murderers are hardly qualified to judge what is a ‘hate crime’ and what is not.’
      • ‘The binding nature of the court's legal opinion is hardly a matter of true concern for Zionists.’
      • ‘I think it's a salutory consequence, hardly insignificant, but it's not Job One.’
      • ‘But the maxim that you can fall in love at any age could hardly be more true than for James Foster and Barbara Scott.’
      • ‘Now, I think we can all agree that one of the closest elections in history can hardly qualify as a blowout.’
      • ‘A rushed survey with a very small participation rate hardly qualifies as full consultation.’
      • ‘The casting of a man in the role of Miss Pink had no apparent intended significance, yet it could hardly be insignificant.’
      • ‘In sharp contrast, across the mass-media landscape, average workers hardly qualify as noble.’
      • ‘That hardly qualifies as an irrational act of an immoderate president.’
      • ‘It looked enormous, and even if you accept the police figure for some obscure reason, 45,000 is hardly an insignificant number.’
      • ‘But that's hardly a true picture of what was available in that much-maligned decade.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Writing and ranting that is neither clever nor funny hardly qualifies as banter.’
      • ‘That was, in many ways true, but it hardly justifies colonization.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A person who is in the throes of an addiction is hardly qualified to make that decision.’
      • ‘The surly behaviour of the United camp to the foreign media has hardly qualified as a charm offensive on either front.’
      • ‘Some bloggers don't write very well, but that hardly qualifies as poetry.’
      • ‘True, she is hardly a representative working mum - whatever that might be.’
      • ‘This sort of thing is rampant in the public sector though so hardly qualifies as news.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Bomb making and inciting riots hardly qualify as youthful follies.’
      • ‘While there is nothing objectionable about such sponsorship, it hardly qualifies as community involvement.’
      • ‘Even if true, that hardly proves the point that we should continue to turn a blind eye to those who are cheating the system.’
      • ‘If it's true this was hardly a classic, it was a no holds barred derby with the occasional touch of class.’
      • ‘Still, at 58 degrees, that was hardly bath water lapping onto the sand near SeaWalk Pavilion.’
      • ‘It may be reasonable, but it hardly qualifies as a competent choice, even if it is successful.’
      • ‘The higher ups never really considered the pressure they'd heaped on her but what I did hardly qualified as heroism.’
  • 2archaic Harshly.

    ‘the rule worked hardly’


1 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. 2Hardly . . . than versus hardly . . . when: the conjunction than is best left to work with comparative adjectives and adverbs (lovelier than; more quickly than). Consider a construction such as Sheila had hardly recovered from the flu when she lost her beloved beagle: in speech, one might tend to use than as the complement to hardly, but in careful writing, since time is the point, the word to use is when. In a more formal context, however, the idea would be better conveyed: No sooner had Sheila recovered from the flu than she lost her beloved beagle. In this sentence, than does belong because it is the natural conjunction after the comparative adjective sooner. 3 As synonyms, hardly, barely, and scarcely are almost indistinguishable


  • hardly any

    • 1Almost no.

      ‘they sold hardly any books’
      1. 1.1Almost none.
        ‘hardly any had previous convictions’
        • ‘At first this sounds truly minimal: slow-moving layers of overlapping sound with hardly any pulse.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘Until a few days ago, there was hardly any news in Danish newspapers and magazines about elections in India.’
        • ‘He's in fact been all but invisible of late making hardly any public appearances.’
        • ‘Boxing, or rather a raw version of it with no gloves and hardly any rules, was part of the Ancient Games programme.’
        • ‘There is hardly any discussion of how to deal with global warming while generating substantial economic growth at the same time.’
        little, little or no, minimal, hardly any, limited, negligible, barely sufficient, meagre
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  • hardly ever

    • Very rarely.

      ‘we hardly ever see them’
      • ‘The secret ballot has remained the envy of the world and the integrity of election results hardly ever questioned.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Dover Samuels is history, as are a bunch of Labour Maori MPs I have hardly ever heard of.’
      • ‘The children are hardly ever picked up by the staff, or played with and many, including Ludmylla, were ill.’
      • ‘Even where there are suspects who are charged, cases hardly ever get concluded.’
      • ‘That is probably why police reports are always lacking and the officers hardly ever show up at court.’
      • ‘In fact, they hardly ever come to buy anything from my shop and even if they do I refuse to sell anything to them.’
      • ‘I was surprised, but he has always been fit and is hardly ever injured.’
      • ‘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.’
      rarely, infrequently, on rare occasions, hardly ever, scarcely ever, hardly, scarcely, almost never, only now and then, not often, only occasionally, sporadically
      View synonyms