Meaning of “hard” in the English Dictionary

"hard" in British English

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uk /hɑːd/ us /hɑːrd/

hard adjective (SOLID)

A2 not easy to bend, cut, or break:

a hard surface
There was a heavy frost last night and the ground is still hard.
Heating the clay makes it hard.

More examples

  • Babies like to chew on hard objects when they're teething.
  • The ground was frozen hard and was impossible to dig.
  • Brazil nuts have very hard shells.
  • For running on hard roads, you need shoes with extra cushioning to absorb the shock.
  • Mahogany is a hard wood and pine is a soft wood.

hard adjective (DIFFICULT)

A1 difficult to understand, do, experience, or deal with:

There were some really hard questions in the exam.
It's hard to say which of them is lying.
It's hard being a single mother.
Her handwriting is very hard to read.
He's a hard man to please.
The topics get harder later in the course.
I feel sorry for the kids, too - they've had a hard time.

More examples

  • I found it hard to follow what the teacher was saying, and eventually I lost concentration.
  • The exam is so hard that only 5% of all applicants pass.
  • It was hard to be angry with him when he looked so penitent.
  • They find it hard to live on their state pension.
  • Ending a relationship is always hard but in this case it's for the best.
  • The teacher found it hard to keep her class in order.

hard adjective (USING EFFORT)

B1 needing or using a lot of physical or mental effort:

Go on - give it a good hard push!
It was hard work on the farm but satisfying.

More examples

  • After all that hard work, you deserve a holiday.
  • Give the rope a hard pull.
  • I gave the door a hard push, but it still wouldn't open.
  • After a hard climb, we were rewarded by a picture-postcard vista of rolling hills under a deep blue summer sky.
  • The last part of the course is much harder.

hard adjective (SEVERE)

B2 not pleasant or gentle; severe:

You have to be quite hard to succeed in the property business.
Ooh, you're a hard woman, Elaine!
Our boss has been giving us all a hard time at work (= making our time at work difficult).
be hard on sb

B2 to criticize someone severely, or to treat someone unfairly:

Don't be too hard on him - he's new to the job.

More examples

  • The authorities plan to come down hard on truancy in future.
  • "Well okay, perhaps I was a little hard on her, " he conceded.
  • The instructors worked us very hard on the survival course.
  • Watch out for those two - they're well hard.
  • Sports equipment is designed to withstand hard usage.
noun [ U ] uk /ˈhɑːd.nəs/ us /ˈhɑːrd.nəs/

These alloys are characterized by their extreme hardness.


uk /hɑːd/ us /hɑːrd/

hard adverb (USING EFFORT)

A1 with a lot of physical or mental effort:

Work hard and play hard, that's my motto.
I'm not surprised he failed his exam - he didn't exactly try very hard!

More examples

  • Judy has never been very clever, but she tries hard.
  • I don't like the man, but I have to admit that he works incredibly hard.
  • This type of glass won't shatter no matter how hard you hit it.
  • I kicked the ball as hard as I could.
  • Blow really hard into the tube.

(Definition of “hard” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"hard" in American English

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hardadjective [ -er/-est only ]

us /hɑrd/

hard adjective [ -er/-est only ] (SOLID)

firm and solid, or not easy to bend, cut, or break:

It hadn’t rained in a long time, and the ground was hard.
He chewed on something hard and was afraid he’d broken a tooth.

hard adjective [ -er/-est only ] (DIFFICULT)

difficult to understand or do:

[ + to infinitive ] It’s hard to say which of them is lying.
It’s hard being a working mother.
She always does things the hard way (= makes things more difficult to do).
I find her books hard going (= difficult and tiring).

hard adjective [ -er/-est only ] (USING EFFORT)

needing or using a lot of physical or mental effort:

Qualifying as a surgeon is hard work.
We had fun cycling, but it was hard to go up the hills.

hard adjective [ -er/-est only ] (SEVERE)

not pleasant or gentle; severe:

She’s had a hard life.
His boss is giving him a hard time (= is being unpleasant to him).
Don’t be too hard on her – she’s just learning the job.

Someone who is hard on a piece of clothing tends to damage it quickly:

I’m very hard on shoes.

hard adjective [ -er/-est only ] (DRUG)

(of a drug) dangerous and addictive (= giving you the habit of taking it), or (of a drink) containing a large amount of alcohol

hard adjective [ -er/-est only ] (BASED ON FACTS)

able to be proven:

hardadverb [ -er/-est only ]

us /hɑrd/

hard adverb [ -er/-est only ] (WITH EFFORT)

with a lot of physical or mental effort:

You have to push the door hard to open it.

If something is hard-earned or hard-won, it was achieved only after a lot of effort:

hard-earned money/knowledge/fame
hard-won freedoms/battles

hard adverb [ -er/-est only ] (SEVERELY)

in a severe or forceful way:

They took the defeat hard.
It’s raining hard.
She stepped on my toe really hard.

(Definition of “hard” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"hard" in Business English

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uk /hɑːd/ us

[ before noun ] used to describe information that can be proved:

hard facts/figures/numbers There are no hard numbers on viewership levels.

[ usually before noun ] FINANCE, INSURANCE used to describe a market in which prices are high:

The best time to market for new business that will carry you through a soft market is when the market is hard.
Many experts expect the hard market to last for at least 18 months, allowing the company to boost margins by more than 10 per cent.
hard to swallow

difficult to believe or accept:

With European governments having so much invested in the company, outsourcing and downsizing have been hard to swallow.

(Definition of “hard” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)