hard·​scrab·​ble | \ ˈhärd-ˌskra-bəl How to pronounce hardscrabble (audio) \

Definition of hardscrabble

1a : being or relating to a place of barren or barely arable soil a hardscrabble farm hardscrabble prairies
b : getting a meager living from poor soil a hardscrabble farmer
2 : marked by poverty a hardscrabble cotton town a hardscrabble childhood

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of hardscrabble in a Sentence

He lived a hardscrabble life. it was hard to eke out even a bare existence on the hardscrabble lands
Recent Examples on the Web Yet against this backdrop, its People’s Rural Telephone Cooperative has helped connect folks to an economy not hemmed in by the Appalachian Mountains, a beautiful but hardscrabble slice of the South. jsonline.com, 9 June 2021 Many who had acquired middle-class security have returned to a hardscrabble life. Jon Emont, WSJ, 6 June 2021 Stansbury has highlighted her hardscrabble upbringing in Albuquerque, while Moores frequently invokes Latino family ties that date back to the region's Spanish colonial era, in a state where Hispanic pride is an enduring staple of politics. Susan Montoya Bryan And Morgan Lee, Star Tribune, 1 June 2021 The self-reliance built from growing up in such a hardscrabble way stayed with her too. Chloe Schama, Vogue, 4 May 2021 In 2002, country music legend Loretta Lynn released her memoir Still Woman Enough, reflecting on her journey out of hardscrabble Kentucky and into stardom, with all the triumphs and tragedies between. David Browne, Rolling Stone, 5 Apr. 2021 Faithfull, 74, has the regal air of a daughter of English privilege, while Love, 56, has a scrappy, mile-a-minute energy that reflects her chaotic, hardscrabble upbringing and punk-rock adolescence. Dorian Lynskey, Los Angeles Times, 27 Apr. 2021 Largely because it was bankrolled by two scions of the Dayton family, the restaurant managed to be both a homage to the hardscrabble lives of Scandinavian immigrants and a luxurious hipster hangout, showered with stars and media coverage. New York Times, 28 Dec. 2020 In a hardscrabble crater on Mars, a tiny helicopter with a smartphone brain is now days away from attempting the first powered flight on another world. Robert Lee Hotz, WSJ, 3 Apr. 2021

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

See More

First Known Use of hardscrabble

1879, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About hardscrabble

Time Traveler for hardscrabble

Time Traveler

The first known use of hardscrabble was in 1879

See more words from the same year

Statistics for hardscrabble

Last Updated

12 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Hardscrabble.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hardscrabble. Accessed 22 Jun. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for hardscrabble



English Language Learners Definition of hardscrabble

: having poor soil
: having harsh and difficult conditions because of poverty

More from Merriam-Webster on hardscrabble

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hardscrabble


Test Your Vocabulary

Return of Name that Color!

  • a light greenish blue color
  • Name that color:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!