adverb hard·ly \ˈhärd-lē\

Definition of hardly

  1. 1 :  with force :  vigorously

  2. 2 :  in a severe manner :  harshly

  3. 3 :  with difficulty :  painfully

  4. 4 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>

  5. 5 :  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 in a sentence

  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.

Before 12th Century

First Known Use of hardly

before 12th century

HARDLY Defined for Kids


adverb hard·ly \ˈhärd-lē\

Definition of hardly for Students

  1. :  only just :  barely <I can hardly hear you.>

Seen and Heard

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a Mesopotamian temple tower

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