adverb \ˈhärd-lē\

: almost not at all

: almost not

—used to say that something reached a specifed condition or happened only a short time before

Full Definition of HARDLY

:  with force :  vigorously
:  in a severe manner :  harshly
:  with difficulty :  painfully
a —used to emphasize a minimal amount <I hardly knew her> <almost new — hardly a scratch on it>
b —used to soften a negative <you can't hardly tell who anyone is — G. B. Shaw>
:  certainly not <that news is hardly surprising>

Usage Discussion of HARDLY

Hardly in sense 5 is used sometimes with not for emphasis <just another day at the office? Not hardly>. In sense 4b with a negative verb (as can't, wouldn't, didn't) it does not make a double negative but softens the negative. In you can't hardly find a red one, the sense is that you can find a red one, but only with difficulty; in you can't find a red one, the sense is that red ones are simply not available. Use of hardly with a negative verb is a speech form; it is most commonly heard in Southern and Midland speech areas. In other speech areas and in all discursive prose, hardly is normally used with a positive <you can hardly find a red one>.

Examples of HARDLY

  1. It hardly matters what I think.
  2. The changes in service have hardly been noticed.
  3. There are hardly any new features in this software.
  4. Hardly anyone showed up for the meeting.
  5. Hardly a day goes by when I don't think about you.
  6. This is hardly a new idea for a movie.
  7. Is this a new idea for a movie? Hardly! I've seen dozens of movies just like it.

First Known Use of HARDLY

before 12th century


Next Word in the Dictionary: hardly ever
Previous Word in the Dictionary: hard–luck
All Words Near: hardly

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