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

Yet many Irish families came to regard him as a swindler who promised an Eden but delivered a hardscrabble existence. Peter Duffy, WSJ, "‘When the Irish Invaded Canada’ Review: The Irish Are Coming!," 16 June 2019 There is the stumbling through a romantic subplot that ultimately shows a far more accomplished and emotionally mature female character lessening herself to heal the hardscrabble athlete unable to cope with life off the field. Conor Orr, SI.com, "Can Tom Cruise Lift “All the Right Moves” Above the Football Movie Fray?," 21 June 2019 The nation’s news media, and even the publishers of literary memoirs, feed the myth that the forgotten people of Appalachia are essentially hardscrabble white folks. The New York Review of Books, "Radcliffe Roye," 3 May 2019 But the government quickly scrapped the deal after an outcry by hard-line politicians and residents of the hardscrabble areas where many of the migrants live. Caron Creighton, Fox News, "African migrants reel as Israeli law cuts into salaries," 15 Aug. 2018 Lawrence stars as a teenage girl eking out a hardscrabble existence in the Ozarks while searching for her missing deadbeat father. Emma Dibdin And Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "16 Amazon Prime Video Movies to Stream on Your Next Lazy Night In," 21 May 2019 In addition, Abdul Aziz had a hardscrabble upbringing and a reputation for simple living, whereas MBS has purchased a $500 million yacht, a French château and a $450 million painting by da Vinci. Karen Elliott House, WSJ, "The Model for a Saudi Reformer," 17 July 2018 O’Rourke was born in prestige, lived a charmed life, raised in an upper-class lifestyle by people accustomed to power -- a sharp contrast to that of a mostly Mexican-American, hardscrabble city where workers still barely make ends meet... James Freeman, WSJ, "Too Soon for Democrats To Dump Elizabeth Warren?," 7 Dec. 2018 In 1981, having escaped a hardscrabble life in West Texas, Bobby Mealer, the author’s father, dragged his wife and young children back to the Permian Basin in hope of cashing in on the region’s latest oil boom. Andrew R. Graybill, WSJ, "What to Give: History Books," 15 Nov. 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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Statistics for hardscrabble

Last Updated

12 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for hardscrabble

The first known use of hardscrabble was in 1879

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English Language Learners Definition of hardscrabble

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

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