Language: Old English
Origin: heard


1 adjective
Related topics: Drug Culture, Linguistics
hard1 S1 W1 comparative harder, superlative hardest

firm to touch

firm, stiff, and difficult to press down, break, or cut [≠ soft]:
a hard wooden chair
the hardest substance known to man
After months without rain, the ground was too hard to plough.


difficult to do or understand [= difficult; ≠ easy]:
This year's exam was much harder than last year's.
You'll have to make some hard decisions.
They're a hard team to beat.
it is hard to believe/imagine/see/know etc
It was hard to see what else we could have done.
It's hard to believe that anyone would say something like that.
find it hard to do something
I was finding it hard to concentrate.
Permanent jobs are hard to come by (=difficult to find or get).
be hard for somebody
It must be hard for her, bringing up three kids on her own.
Telling my parents is going to be the hardest thing about it.
have a hard time doing something (=be difficult for someone to do something)
You'll have a hard time proving that.
I had a hard time persuading him to accept the offer.
Such criticism was hard to take (=difficult to accept).


[usually before noun] using or involving a lot of mental or physical effort:
To be successful in sport requires hard work and a great deal of determination.
After a hard day at work, I just want to come home and put my feet up.
a hard day's work/walking/skiing etc
There's a sauna where you can relax after a hard day's skiing.
Becoming a doctor never interested him. It was too much like hard work (=it would involve too much work).

full of problems

a situation or time that is hard is one in which you have a lot of problems, especially when you do not have enough money:
She's had a hard life.
Times were hard and they were forced to sell their house.
He had clearly fallen on hard times (=did not have much money).

be hard on somebody

a) to criticize someone in a way that is unfair, or to be too strict with them:
Perhaps I'm too hard on her.
b) to have a bad effect on someone:
Divorce can be very hard on children.

be hard on something

to have a bad effect on something:
Standing all day is very hard on the feet.

do something the hard way

to learn, achieve, or do something after a bad experience or by making mistakes:
He learned the hard way about the harsh reality of the boxing world.
Make sure you put the baby's diaper on before you start feeding her. I learned this lesson the hard way.
He earned his promotion the hard way.

using force

using a lot of force:
Jane gave the door a good hard push.
She gave him a hard slap.

hard evidence/facts/information etc

facts that are definitely true and can be proved:
There is no hard evidence to support this theory.


showing no sympathetic or gentle feelings:
a hard face
Her voice was hard and cold.
You're a hard man, John.

hard going

a) difficult to do and needing a lot of effort:
A strong wind made the race very hard going.
b) boring, or difficult to deal with, talk to etc:
I find some of his friends pretty hard going.

make hard work of something

to make something you are doing seem more difficult than it really is:
Juventus were making hard work of what should have been an easy game.

be hard at it/work

informal to be very busy doing something:
Sarah was hard at it on her computer.


hard water contains a lot of minerals, and does not mix easily with soap [≠ soft]

hard luck

a) British English spoken used to tell someone that you feel sorry for them because they have not succeeded in what they were trying to do:
'I failed my driving test.' 'Oh, hard luck!'
b) when bad things happen to you that are not your fault:
You've had your share of hard luck.
hard luck on
It was hard luck on you.
c) spoken also hard cheese British English used to say that you do not care if someone is having problems, does not like something etc:
If you don't like the idea then hard luck!

give somebody a hard time

a) to treat someone badly or cause problems for them:
Giving you a hard time, is she?
They reached the border where officials gave them a hard time.
b) to criticize someone a lot:
Hostile critics have given Hartman a hard time.

have a hard time

to have a lot of problems or bad experiences:
I'm glad she's happy at last - she's had such a hard time.
Vegetarians still often have a hard time of it when it comes to eating out.

drive/strike a hard bargain

to demand a lot or refuse to give too much when you are making an agreement:
The company is believed to have struck a hard bargain.

hard feelings

a) anger between people because of something that has happened:
We'd known each other too long for hard feelings.
I have no hard feelings towards Steve.

no hard feelings

spoken used to tell someone that you do not want to be angry with them or for them to be angry with you:
I'm sorry it didn't work out, but no hard feelings, eh?

take a (long) hard look at something/somebody

to think carefully about something, especially with the result that you change your opinions or behaviour:
You should take a long hard look at the issues before committing yourself.

hard line

a strict way of dealing with someone or something:
The president should abandon his hard line in the region.
take/adopt a hard line (on something)
The school takes a very hard line on drugs.

hard news

news stories that are about serious subjects or events:
TV news programs seem to be more interested in gossip than in hard news.

not frightened

British English spoken strong, ready to fight, and not afraid of anyone or anything:
He thinks he's really hard.
Jones was known as soccer's hard man.

(as) hard as nails

someone who is hard as nails seems to have no feelings such as fear or sympathy

a hard taskmaster/master

someone who makes people work too hard

a hard winter/frost

a very cold winter or frost [≠ mild]

the hard left/right

people who have extreme left-wing or right-wing political aims and ideas [= far left/right, extreme]:
concerns about the re-emergence of the hard right in some areas


especially literary hard light is bright and unpleasant [= harsh]:
the hard brilliance of the moonlight


[only before noun] informal very strong:
hard liquor
I never touch the hard stuff (=strong alcohol).
hard drugs

a hard left/right

a big turn to the left or right, for example when you are driving [= sharp]


a hard 'c' is pronounced /k/ rather than /s/; a hard 'g' is pronounced /g/ rather than /dz/ [↪ soft]
hardness noun [uncountable]
a material that would combine the flexibility of rubber with the hardness of glass
hard and not bending: solid, firm, stiff, rigid

meat that is too hard: tough

skin that is old and hard: leathery, calloused

hard and easily broken: brittle
WORD FOCUS: difficult WORD FOCUS: difficult
difficult to do: hard, tough, challenging, daunting

difficult and needing a lot of physical effort: tough, strenuous, back-breaking, gruelling, arduous, punishing

difficult to deal with or talk about: tricky, awkward, delicate, sensitive, touchy

words for describing a difficult person: awkward, trying

words for describing difficult conditions: adverse, hostile

See also

Dictionary results for "hard"
Dictionary pictures of the day
Do you know what each of these is called?
What is the word for picture 1? What is the word for picture 2? What is the word for picture 3? What is the word for picture 4?
Click on any of the pictures above to find out what it is called.