adj. hard·er, hard·est
a. Resistant to pressure; not readily penetrated; firm or solid: a hard material.
b. Well protected from an attack, as by aerial bombardment: bunkers and other hard targets.
a. Requiring great effort or endurance: a hard assignment.
b. Performed with or marked by great diligence or energy: a project that required years of hard work.
c. Difficult to resolve, accomplish, or finish: That was a hard question.
d. Difficult to understand or impart: Physics was the hardest of my courses. Thermodynamics is a hard course to teach.
3. Proceeding or performing with force, vigor, or persistence; assiduous: a hard worker.
a. Intense in force or degree: a hard blow.
b. Inclement or severe: a long, hard winter.
a. Stern, strict, or demanding: a hard taskmaster.
b. Lacking compassion or sympathy; callous: became hard after years in prison.
a. Difficult to endure; causing hardship or suffering: a hard life.
b. Oppressive or unjust in nature or effect: restrictions that were hard on welfare applicants.
c. Harsh or severe in effect or intention: I said some hard things that I regret.
d. Marked by stubborn refusal to compromise or yield; uncompromising: drives a hard bargain.
e. Bitter or resentful: hard feelings caused by the insult.
f. Showing disapproval, bitterness, or resentment: gave me a hard look.
a. Causing damage or premature wear: Snow and ice are hard on a car's finish.
b. Bad; adverse: hard luck.
a. Real and unassailable: hard evidence.
b. Definite; firm: a hard commitment.
c. Free from illusion or sentimentality; practical or realistic: We need to take a hard look at the situation.
d. Using or based on data that are readily quantified or verified: the hard sciences.
a. Marked by sharp delineation or contrast: a hard line separating the two lists.
b. Lacking in shade; undiminished: the hard light of the midday sun.
11. Being a turn in a specific direction at an angle more acute than other possible routes.
a. Metallic, as opposed to paper. Used of currency.
b. Backed by bullion rather than by credit. Used of currency.
c. High and stable. Used of prices.
a. Durable; lasting: hard merchandise.
b. Written or printed rather than stored in electronic media: sent the information by hard mail.
14. Erect; tumid. Used of a penis.
a. Having high alcoholic content; intoxicating: hard liquor.
b. Rendered alcoholic by fermentation; fermented: hard cider.
16. Containing dissolved salts that interfere with the lathering action of soap or other cleansing agents. Used of water.
17. Linguistics Velar, as in c in cake or g in log, as opposed to palatal or soft.
18. Physics Of relatively high energy; penetrating: hard x-rays.
19. High in gluten content: hard wheat.
20. Chemistry Resistant to biodegradation: a hard detergent.
21. Extremely or dangerously addictive. Used of certain illegal drugs, such as heroin.
1. With strenuous effort; intently: worked hard all day; stared hard at the accused criminal.
2. With great force, vigor, or energy: pressed hard on the lever.
3. In such a way as to cause great damage or hardship: industrial cities hit hard by unemployment.
4. With great distress, grief, or bitterness: took the divorce hard.
5. Firmly; securely: held hard to the railing.
6. Toward or into a solid condition: concrete that sets hard within a day.
7. Near in space or time; close: The factory stands hard by the railroad tracks.
8. Nautical Completely; fully: hard alee.
hard and fast
Defined, fixed, and invariable: hard and fast rules.
hard of hearing
1. Having a partial loss of hearing.
2. People who have partial loss of hearing, considered as a group.
Undergoing great difficulty: Under the circumstances, he was hard put to explain himself.
hard up Informal
1. In need; poor.
2. Lacking something that is greatly desired: hard up for companionship.
[Middle English, from Old English heard; see kar- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.