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’
    • ‘Looking at Qin Yi's wrinkle-free face and her smooth, white complexion, one can hardly guess her true age.’
    • ‘A degree in theatre arts hardly qualifies me as a nutritionist or a psychologist.’
    • ‘If Judas were among the saved, these statements could hardly be true.’
    • ‘Rather and company may have been fed phony documents, but the basic story is obviously true and hardly disputed.’
    • ‘The next two decades saw a blossoming of academic philosophy on a scale hardly imaginable just a short time earlier.’
    • ‘Like a true Melbourne audience hardly anyone at all got up to flee from the rain.’
    • ‘Frans Snyders's Concert of Birds hardly qualifies even as second-rate.’
    • ‘Sorry, I have to go, and this hardly even qualifies as a post, back later…’
    • ‘Even that hardly ensures true objectivity - whatever that is - but it's probably the best we can hope for.’
    • ‘Perhaps this is why beauty hardly qualifies as an aesthetic category any more.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The short multi-party history, however, shows that this desire hardly comes true and is never realized for long.’
    • ‘Although I knew that technically wasn't true because I had hardly been there for her since Danny died.’
    • ‘To those who read the early version of this, yes its true I can hardly think nor spell today.’
    • ‘As time went by, a subtle change began to overtake her, transforming her by degrees into another person hardly recognizable to her children.’
    • ‘Now, Sara and I hardly qualify as informed critics of modern television.’
    • ‘I wasn't always a Bowie fan, and, to be honest, I'm hardly qualified to call myself one today.’
    • ‘If true, it's hardly inspirational to the troops.’
    • ‘His mother, Francis Fiddler, was so stunned by the news last night that she could hardly believe it was true.’
    • ‘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.’
    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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘I could hardly see even straight ahead - the netting was against my eyes, so that I couldn't ignore it.’
      • ‘I could hardly stand it, sitting around another hour or so with the adults.’
      • ‘By the time I got there, the rhythm section were the only ones left and hardly able to see straight.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Employees can hardly sit, idly waiting for new work to come along.’
      • ‘I staggered around in my kitchen for a few minutes holding my gut while I laughed because I could hardly sit on my chair!’
      • ‘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've ridden bikes for years, but nothing compares to this pain - I've hardly sat down for days.’
      • ‘She gets a terrible pain every time she tries to walk, and yet she is very restless, and can hardly stand to sit still.’
      • ‘We could hardly keep our faces straight and some of the musicians at the back desks laughed behind their music wholeheartedly.’
      • ‘She was so worn out she could hardly see straight, but she couldn't take her eyes from the stars.’
      • ‘Like a child with a new toy, his spirit rose with each idea the group generated until he could hardly sit in his chair.’
      • ‘We could hardly eat, never sit still, and chattered endlessly about the hopes and possibilities for Christmas Day.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Now the 15-year-old club-mates can hardly bear to sit and watch the Games at home on television.’
      • ‘I walk to the old chair that hardly still stands and sit down.’
      • ‘She could hardly think straight as the sleepiness overwhelmed her.’
      • ‘I can hardly sit on it without squeaks of joy… and I really dig the lamp they paired it with.’
      • ‘By lunch I could hardly sit still, I was on this crazy sugar rush that couldn't be contained.’
      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’
      • ‘But these murderers are hardly qualified to judge what is a ‘hate crime’ and what is not.’
      • ‘Still, at 58 degrees, that was hardly bath water lapping onto the sand near SeaWalk Pavilion.’
      • ‘Some bloggers don't write very well, but that hardly qualifies as poetry.’
      • ‘Even if true, that hardly proves the point that we should continue to turn a blind eye to those who are cheating the system.’
      • ‘This sort of thing is rampant in the public sector though so hardly qualifies as news.’
      • ‘Bomb making and inciting riots hardly qualify as youthful follies.’
      • ‘Writing and ranting that is neither clever nor funny hardly qualifies as banter.’
      • ‘University administrators worry that too many students pursue business degrees, hardly a path of activism.’
      • ‘That hardly qualifies as an irrational act of an immoderate president.’
      • ‘But the maxim that you can fall in love at any age could hardly be more true than for James Foster and Barbara Scott.’
      • ‘Many do drink to excess on special occasions, but this hardly qualifies as dangerous binging.’
      • ‘While there is nothing objectionable about such sponsorship, it hardly qualifies as community involvement.’
      • ‘It may be reasonable, but it hardly qualifies as a competent choice, even if it is successful.’
      • ‘True, she is hardly a representative working mum - whatever that might be.’
      • ‘The binding nature of the court's legal opinion is hardly a matter of true concern for Zionists.’
      • ‘The ‘big fat’ series hardly qualifies as reality, nor does Survivor, for that matter!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In sharp contrast, across the mass-media landscape, average workers hardly qualify as noble.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The surly behaviour of the United camp to the foreign media has hardly qualified as a charm offensive on either front.’
      • ‘Nonetheless, despite the seemingly narrow focus, this outline is hardly insignificant.’
      • ‘It looked enormous, and even if you accept the police figure for some obscure reason, 45,000 is hardly an insignificant number.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I think it's a salutory consequence, hardly insignificant, but it's not Job One.’
      • ‘Now, I think we can all agree that one of the closest elections in history can hardly qualify as a blowout.’
      • ‘A person who is in the throes of an addiction is hardly qualified to make that decision.’
  • 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 Hardly . . . 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

Phrases

  • hardly any

    • 1Almost no.

      ‘they sold hardly any books’
      1. 1.1Almost none.
        ‘hardly any had previous convictions’
        • ‘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 is hardly any discussion of how to deal with global warming while generating substantial economic growth at the same time.’
        • ‘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 were people like that in my village too, as a child, but hardly any to speak of, and possibly none now.’
        • ‘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 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.’
        • ‘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’
      • ‘That is probably why police reports are always lacking and the officers hardly ever show up at court.’
      • ‘The children are hardly ever picked up by the staff, or played with and many, including Ludmylla, were ill.’
      • ‘I was surprised, but he has always been fit and is hardly ever injured.’
      • ‘Dover Samuels is history, as are a bunch of Labour Maori MPs I have hardly ever heard of.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We can hold our liquor and hardly ever shoot each other unless it's important.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In fact, they hardly ever come to buy anything from my shop and even if they do I refuse to sell anything to them.’
      • ‘Even where there are suspects who are charged, cases hardly ever get concluded.’
      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

/ˈhärdlē//ˈhɑrdli/