hard·​ly | \ ˈhärd-lē How to pronounce hardly (audio) \

Definition of hardly

1 : with force : vigorously
2 : in a severe manner : harshly
3 : with difficulty : painfully
4a used to emphasize a minimal amount I hardly knew heralmost new—hardly a scratch on it
b used to soften a negative you can't hardly tell who anyone is— G. B. Shaw
5 : certainly not that news is hardly surprising

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Can hardly be used with a negative?: Usage Guide

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 (such 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 in a Sentence

It hardly matters what I think. The changes in service have hardly been noticed. There are hardly any new features in this software. Hardly anyone showed up for the meeting. Hardly a day goes by when I don't think about you. This is hardly a new idea for a movie. “Is this a new idea for a movie?” “Hardly! I've seen dozens of movies just like it.”
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Recent Examples on the Web San Francisco has begun to reopen, but only partly, hardly enough to cover many businesses’ bottom lines. Ryan Kost, San Francisco Chronicle, "'From desperation to uncertainty': As pandemic slows, Bay Area residents balance hope and the unknown," 8 Feb. 2021 Years from now, the circumstances will hardly matter. Star Tribune, "Patrick Mahomes might be the brightest star in the NFL today, but greatness only comes with time," 7 Feb. 2021 Oettinger under pressure: During his first two NHL starts, Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger hardly felt much game pressure, as both games devolved into blowout wins over Detroit and Columbus. Matthew Defranks, Dallas News, "Stars’ Jason Robertson scores first career NHL goal with a little help from his rear end," 7 Feb. 2021 For nearly three quarters Saturday, the McMain boys basketball players could hardly miss. Chris Dabe, NOLA.com, "BTW Classic: McMain survives last-second scare against Sophie B. Wright," 6 Feb. 2021 The moral scruples that keep the business underground elsewhere are hardly evident in Herat. New York Times, "In Afghanistan, a Booming Kidney Trade Preys on the Poor," 6 Feb. 2021 After last year’s Section 230 theater, the bar for thoughtful argument about the law in Washington could hardly have gotten any lower. Gilad Edelman, Wired, "Finally, an Interesting Proposal for Section 230 Reform," 5 Feb. 2021 Extrajudicial killings, torture and abuse by the police are hardly uncommon: In 2014, a group of 43 students disappeared from the town of Iguala in Guerrero state, with both police and military implicated in the still-unsolved crime. Oscar Lopez, BostonGlobe.com, "Mexico arrests police officers over massacre," 4 Feb. 2021 Her mother Debbie Boyd can hardly believe how much time has passed. Erin Moriarty, CBS News, "A killer's family helps detectives find victim's remains after 15 years," 30 Jan. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hardly.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of hardly

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for hardly

Time Traveler

The first known use of hardly was before the 12th century

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Statistics for hardly

Last Updated

14 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Hardly.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hardly. Accessed 24 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for hardly


hard·​ly | \ ˈhärd-lē How to pronounce hardly (audio) \

Kids Definition of hardly

: only just : barely I can hardly hear you.

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