Meaning of HARD in English

I. hard 1 S1 W1 /hɑːd $ hɑːrd/ BrE AmE adjective ( comparative harder , superlative hardest )

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ hardship , ↑ hardness , ↑ hardiness ; adjective : ↑ hard , ↑ hardened , ↑ hardy ; adverb : ↑ hard , ↑ hardly ; verb : ↑ harden ]

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: heard ]

1 . FIRM TO TOUCH firm, stiff, and difficult to press down, break, or cut OPP soft :

a hard wooden chair

the hardest substance known to man

After months without rain, the ground was too hard to plough.

2 . DIFFICULT difficult to do or understand SYN difficult OPP 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) .

3 . WORK/EFFORT [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) .

4 . 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) .

5 . 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.

6 . be hard on something to have a bad effect on something:

Standing all day is very hard on the feet.

7 . 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.

8 . USING FORCE using a lot of force:

Jane gave the door a good hard push.

She gave him a hard slap.

9 . hard evidence/facts/information etc facts that are definitely true and can be proved:

There is no hard evidence to support this theory.

10 . UNKIND showing no sympathetic or gentle feelings:

a hard face

Her voice was hard and cold.

You’re a hard man, John.

11 . 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.

12 . 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.

13 . be hard at it/work informal to be very busy doing something:

Sarah was hard at it on her computer.

14 . WATER hard water contains a lot of minerals, and does not mix easily with soap OPP soft

15 . 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!

16 . give somebody a hard time informal

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.

17 . 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.

18 . 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.

19 . 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.

b) 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?

20 . 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.

21 . 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.

22 . 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.

23 . 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.

24 . (as) hard as nails someone who is hard as nails seems to have no feelings such as fear or sympathy

25 . a hard taskmaster/master someone who makes people work too hard

26 . a hard winter/frost a very cold winter or ↑ frost OPP mild

27 . the hard left/right people who have extreme ↑ left-wing or ↑ right-wing political aims and ideas SYN far left/right , extreme :

concerns about the re-emergence of the hard right in some areas

28 . LIGHT especially literary hard light is bright and unpleasant SYN harsh :

the hard brilliance of the moonlight

29 . ALCOHOL [only before noun] informal very strong:

hard liquor

I never touch the hard stuff (=strong alcohol) .

⇨ ↑ hard drugs

30 . a hard left/right a big turn to the left or right, for example when you are driving SYN sharp

31 . PRONUNCIATION 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 difficult to press down, break, or cut, and not at all soft:

I fell onto the hard stone floor.


The clay gets harder as it dries.

▪ firm not completely hard, but not easy to press or bend – used especially when this seems a good thing:

I like to sleep on a firm mattress.


exercises to make your stomach muscles nice and firm


The pears were firm and juicy.

▪ stiff difficult to bend and not changing shape:

a piece of stiff cardboard


The collar of his shirt felt stiff and uncomfortable.

▪ solid made of a thick hard material and not hollow:

a solid oak door


The floor felt strong and solid beneath her feet.

▪ rigid /ˈrɪdʒəd, ˈrɪdʒɪd/ having a structure that is made of a material that is difficult or impossible to bend:

The tent is supported by a rigid frame.


Carry sandwiches in a rigid container.

▪ crisp/crispy used about food that is pleasantly hard, so that it makes a noise when you bite it – often used about things that have been cooked in thin ↑ slice s until they are brown:

Bake the cookies until they are crisp and golden.


crispy bacon

▪ crunchy food that is crunchy makes a noise when you bite on it – often used about things that are fresh, for example fruit, vegetables, and nuts:

a crunchy breakfast cereal


The carrots were still nice and crunchy.


a crunchy salad


crunchy peanut butter

▪ tough meat that is tough is too hard and is difficult to cut or eat:

The meat was tough and flavourless.

▪ rubbery too hard and bending like rubber rather than breaking – used especially about meat:

The chicken was all rubbery.


▪ firm bed/muscles/fruit/vegetables/ground

▪ stiff card/cardboard/collar/material/fingers/body

▪ solid wood/steel/concrete/floor/wall

▪ rigid frame/structure

▪ crisp/crispy apple/bacon/toast/potato/lettuce

▪ crunchy cereal/vegetables/nuts/snack

▪ tough meat

▪ rubbery meat

II. hard 2 S1 W2 BrE AmE adverb ( comparative harder , superlative hardest )

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ hardship , ↑ hardness , ↑ hardiness ; adjective : ↑ hard , ↑ hardened , ↑ hardy ; adverb : ↑ hard , ↑ hardly ; verb : ↑ harden ]

1 . USING ENERGY/EFFORT using a lot of effort, energy, or attention:

She has worked hard all her life.

He had thought long and hard before getting involved with the project.

She tried her hardest to ignore what he’d said.

Ella was concentrating very hard.

I couldn’t convince him no matter how hard I tried.

2 . WITH FORCE with a lot of force:

You need to hit the ball hard.

He slammed the door hard behind him.

It was raining very hard.

3 . BECOME SOLID becoming solid, stiff, or firm:

By now the cement had set hard.

4 . be hard hit/be hit hard to be badly affected by something that has happened:

Sales were hard hit by high interest rates.

5 . be hard put/pressed/pushed to do something informal to have difficulty doing something:

You’d be hard pressed to find anyone better for the job.

⇨ ↑ hard-pressed

6 . be/feel hard done by informal to be or feel unfairly treated:

As a child I felt hard done by, living so far away from my friends.

7 . take something hard to be very upset about something, especially bad news:

Alan took his mother’s death particularly hard.

8 . hard upon/on something British English formal soon after something:

His second major contract followed hard upon the first.

9 . laugh/cry hard to laugh, cry etc a lot

⇨ ↑ hard by , ↑ hard up , ⇨ (hard/hot/close) on sb’s heels at ↑ heel 1 (7b), ⇨ (hard/hot/close) on the heels of something at ↑ heel 1 (7a), ⇨ play hard to get at ↑ play 1 (23)

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.