hardscrabble

adjective

hard·​scrab·​ble ˈhärd-ˌskra-bəl How to pronounce hardscrabble (audio)
1
a
: 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

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 Many welcome guests, with options ranging from hardscrabble working farms to luxurious rural retreats. Sarah Marshall, Travel, 23 Jan. 2024 In addition to the unforgiving climate and hardscrabble, crop-resistant soil, Kahlen has to battle with Frederik de Schinkel (Simon Bennebjerg), a brutal and arrogant land baron determined to claim Kahlen’s land for his own. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 Jan. 2024 Based on the book by Daniel James Brown, the movie covers the life of Joe Rantz, a rower at the University of Washington whose team overcame hardscrabble beginnings to compete at the 1936 Summer Olympics. James Grebey, Vulture, 22 Dec. 2023 Advertisement The Red Devils will be trying to win the first football state championship in school history, and Hernandez is a believer that the toughness instilled in his players stems in part from their hardscrabble environment. San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 Dec. 2023 Despite a hardscrabble, itinerant youth, MacGowan earned a literature scholarship to the prestigious Westminster School at age 14, though he was expelled a year later for drug possession. Andrew Barker, Variety, 30 Nov. 2023 In the Imperial Valley, locals’ bona fides rest on how many generations back their family arrived in this hardscrabble desert. Mark Olalde, ProPublica, 20 Nov. 2023 The 2024 lineup includes subterranean sets by rootsy soul singer Yola, hardscrabble country band 49 Winchester, and the multilayered Elizabeth Cook. Joseph Hudak, Rolling Stone, 3 Nov. 2023 Both men caught in the collapse reside in nearby Pike County, said officials, who are all too familiar with tragedies that can befall those in the hardscrabble coal industry. Rich Bellis, NBC News, 1 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hardscrabble.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1879, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of hardscrabble was in 1879

Dictionary Entries Near hardscrabble

Cite this Entry

“Hardscrabble.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hardscrabble. Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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