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 amountI hardly knew heralmost new — hardly a scratch on it
b used to soften a negativeyou 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 The chaos at the heart of government hardly bodes well for the exit negotiations with the EU, which turned to detailed matters this week and need to conclude in autumn 2018. The Economist, "Britain faces up to Brexit," 22 July 2017 Though only three games out of the second wild-card entry into the postseason, the Rangers are hardly trending the right way. Jeff Wilson, star-telegram, "Beltre to GM Daniels: Rangers are buyers, not sellers," 19 July 2017 Bruschetta toppings are updated on a blackboard, and really, who’s going to argue that a chili crab cake hardly belongs on a Cal-Med menu? Garrett Snyder, Los Angeles Magazine, "The Los Angeles Magazine Hot Restaurant List for July 2017," 18 July 2017 With the series officially reaching its denouement, a spike in viewers would hardly come as a surprise. Laura Bradley, HWD, "Your Jokes About Ed Sheeran Only Make Game of Thrones Stronger," 17 July 2017 But his music hardly comes from a superficial place. David Patrick Stearns, Philly.com, "The guy who scored everything from 'The Lion King' to 'The Dark Knight' is headlining the Wells Fargo Center," 17 July 2017 These are the people who, last year, lost, on average, 19 pounds, who are now only eating two or less protein-poor meals a day, who have hardly any access to medicine, whose newborns are dying. Andrés Miguel Rondón, The Atlantic, "The Long, Slow Death of Chavismo," 29 June 2017 Of course, those are hardly the only prime viewing spots. Rob Manker, Naperville Sun, "Manker: Naperville's ever-changing tree line poses fireworks viewing challenge," 27 June 2017 But, as Oliver noted, Trump is hardly alone in buying into these baseless theories. Meredith Blake, chicagotribune.com, "John Oliver takes a shot at the anti-vaccine movement and the 'opportunistic quacks' behind it," 26 June 2017

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

Cite this Entry

“Hardly.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hardly. Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on hardly

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hardly

Spanish Central: Translation of hardly

Nglish: Translation of hardly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hardly for Arabic Speakers

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