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

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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 Ovechkin was reared by athletic parents in a hardscrabble neighborhood on the fringe of Moscow. Andrew Knoll, New York Times, "Alex Ovechkin Scores Goal No. 700 in a Loss to the Devils," 9 Mar. 2020 This hardscrabble city, where nearly 80 percent of residents are black, has become a national hot spot with more than 7,000 infections and more than 400 deaths. John Eligon, New York Times, "Frequently Asked Questions and Advice," 11 Apr. 2020 His words tend to focus on colorful tales of crime, danger and street life, using as source material his hardscrabble upbringing in Gary, Ind. Mark Richardson, WSJ, "‘Bandana’ by Freddie Gibbs & Madlib Review: Hip-Hop on the Margins," 26 June 2019 He and King Lu, like everyone else in Fort Tillicum and all the other hardscrabble communities springing up from the dust in the West, are just trying to make their way. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "Kelly Reichardt's 'First Cow' is a slow-burning thriller you need to see. Here's why," 11 Mar. 2020 First Cow—based on a novel by Reichardt’s frequent writing collaborator Jon Raymond, who co-wrote the script with her—is a work of great beauty, a vision of a younger, more hardscrabble America that’s both historical and mythological. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow Is a Tranquil Reflection on Masculine Tenderness," 6 Mar. 2020 But in the hardscrabble business of feeding people, birthright often morphs into burden along the way. Mark Kurlyandchik, Freep.com, "Leila is the 2020 Detroit Free Press Restaurant of the Year," 14 Feb. 2020 Given his hardscrabble upbringing, Steward’s images of his children can be seen as documents of a desire to transcend social, economic and racial barriers. Steven Litt, cleveland, "Darius Steward explores race and class in portraits of his children at Bonfoey gallery," 28 Sep. 2019 This fictional portrait depicts him as delusional, resentful, and power-mad—and the product of hardscrabble roots. Don Steinberg, WSJ, "For Filmmakers, Watergate Is the Gift That Keeps on Giving," 23 Oct. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of hardscrabble

1879, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for hardscrabble

Time Traveler

The first known use of hardscrabble was in 1879

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Cite this Entry

“Hardscrabble.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hardscrabble. Accessed 9 Jul. 2020.

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How to pronounce hardscrabble (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of hardscrabble

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

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hardscrabble

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