Be hard on

not soft; solid and firm to the touch; unyielding to pressure and impenetrable or almost impenetrable.
firmly formed; tight:
a hard knot.
difficult to do or accomplish; fatiguing; troublesome:
a hard task.
difficult or troublesome with respect to an action, situation, person, etc.:
hard to please; a hard time.
difficult to deal with, manage, control, overcome, or understand:
a hard problem.
involving a great deal of effort, energy, or persistence:
hard labor; hard study.
performing or carrying on work with great effort, energy, or persistence:
a hard worker.
vigorous or violent in force; severe:
a hard rain; a hard fall.
bad; unendurable; unbearable:
hard luck.
oppressive; harsh; rough:
hard treatment.
austere; severe:
a hard winter; the hard times of the Great Depression.
harsh or severe in dealing with others:
a hard master.
difficult to explain away; undeniable:
hard facts.
that can be verified; factual, as distinguished from speculation or hearsay:
hard information.
harsh or unfriendly; resentful; severe; bitter:
hard feelings; hard words.
of stern judgment or close examination; searching:
a hard look.
lacking delicacy or softness; not blurred or diffused; clear and distinct; sharp; harsh:
a hard line; a hard, bright light; hard features; a hard face.
(of a photograph) contrasty.
severe or rigorous in terms:
a hard bargain.
sternly realistic; dispassionate; unsentimental:
a hard, practical man; a hard view of life.
incorrigible; disreputable; tough:
a hard character.
Scot. and North England. niggardly; stingy.
in coins or paper money as distinguished from checks, securities, promissory notes, or other negotiable instruments).
(of paper money or a monetary system) supported by sufficient gold reserves and easily convertible into the currency of a foreign nation.
(of money) scarce or available at high interest rates:
a hard loan.
denoting assets with intrinsic value, as gold, silver, or diamonds.

containing more than 22.5 percent alcohol by volume, as whiskey and brandy as opposed to beer and wine.
strong because of fermentation; intoxicating:
hard cider.

(of wine) tasting excessively of tannin.
(of an illicit narcotic or drug) known to be physically addictive, as opium, morphine, or cocaine.
(of water) containing mineral salts that interfere with the action of soap.

having a firm, crisp crust or texture:
hard rolls.
stale or tough.

(of a fabric) having relatively little nap; smooth:
Silk is a harder fabric than wool or cotton.
(of the landing of a rocket or space vehicle) executed without decelerating:
a hard landing on the moon.
Compare soft (def 28).
(of a missile base) equipped to launch missiles from underground silos.
(of a missile) capable of being launched from an underground silo.
Military. being underground and strongly protected from nuclear bombardment.
Agriculture. noting wheats with high gluten content, milled for a bread flour as contrasted with pastry flour.

(of c and g) pronounced as (k) in come and (g) in go, rather than as in cent, cello, suspicion, gem, or beige.
(of consonants in Slavic languages) not palatalized.
Compare soft (def 26).

(in the making of rope) noting a lay having a considerable angle to the axis of the rope; short.
Physics. (of a beam of particles or photons) having relatively high energy:
hard x-rays.
Compare soft (def 29).
(of the penis) erect.
with great exertion; with vigor or violence; strenuously:
to work hard; to try hard.
earnestly, intently, or critically:
to look hard at a thing.
harshly or severely.
so as to be solid, tight, or firm:
frozen hard.
with strong force or impact:
She tripped and came down hard on her back.
in a deeply affected manner; with genuine sorrow or remorse:
She took it very hard when they told her of his death.
closely; immediately:
Failure and defeat seemed hard at hand. The decision to ban students from the concerts followed hard on the heels of the riot.
to an unreasonable or extreme degree; excessively; immoderately:
He’s hitting the bottle pretty hard.
Nautical. closely, fully, or to the extreme limit:
hard aport; hard alee.
Nautical. a firm or paved beach or slope convenient for hauling vessels out of the water.

a firm or solid beach or foreshore.
a firm landing, jetty, or road across or adjoining the foreshore.

British Slang. hard labor.
be hard on, to deal harshly with; be stern:
You are being too hard on him.
hard by, in close proximity to; near:
The house is hard by the river.
hard of hearing. hearing-impaired.
hard put, in great perplexity or difficulty; at a loss:
We were hard put to finish the examination in one hour.
hard up, Informal.

urgently in need of money.
feeling a lack or need:
The country is hard up for technicians and doctors.

firm or rigid; not easily dented, crushed, or pierced
toughened by or as if by physical labour; not soft or smooth: hard hands
difficult to do or accomplish; arduous: a hard task
difficult to understand or perceive: a hard question
showing or requiring considerable physical or mental energy, effort, or application: hard work, a hard drinker
stern, cold, or intractable: a hard judge
exacting; demanding: a hard master
harsh; cruel: a hard fate
inflicting pain, sorrow, distress, or hardship: hard times
tough or adamant: a hard man
forceful or violent: a hard knock
cool or uncompromising: we took a long hard look at our profit factor
indisputable; real: hard facts
(chem) (of water) impairing the formation of a lather by soap See hardness (sense 3)
practical, shrewd, or calculating: he is a hard man in business
too harsh to be pleasant: hard light

(of cash, money, etc) in coin and paper rather than cheques
(of currency) in strong demand, esp as a result of a good balance of payments situation
(of credit) difficult to obtain; tight

(of alcoholic drink) being a spirit rather than a wine, beer, etc: the hard stuff
(of a drug such as heroin, morphine, or cocaine) highly addictive Compare soft (sense 20)
(physics) (of radiation, such as gamma rays and X-rays) having high energy and the ability to penetrate solids
(physics) (of a vacuum) almost complete
(mainly US) (of goods) durable
short for hard-core See hard core (sense 3), hard core (sense 4)
(of news coverage) concentrating on serious stories

an older word for fortis
(not in modern technical usage) denoting the consonants c and g in English when they are pronounced as velar stops (k, g)
(of consonants in the Slavonic languages) not palatalized

being heavily fortified and protected
(of nuclear missiles) located underground in massively reinforced silos

politically extreme: the hard left
(Brit & NZ, informal) incorrigible or disreputable (esp in the phrase a hard case)
(of bread, etc) stale and old
a hard nut to crack

a person not easily persuaded or won over
a thing not easily understood

hard by, near; close by
(NZ) hard doer, a tough worker at anything
hard done by, unfairly or badly treated
(informal) hard up

in need of money; poor
(foll by for) in great need (of): hard up for suggestions

(Austral & NZ, informal) put the hard word on, to ask or demand something from
with great energy, force, or vigour: the team always played hard
as far as possible; all the way: hard left
with application; earnestly or intently: she thought hard about the formula
with great intensity, force, or violence: his son’s death hit him hard
foll by on, upon, by, or after. close; near: hard on his heels
(foll by at) assiduously; devotedly

with effort or difficulty: their victory was hard won
(in combination): hard-earned

slowly and reluctantly: prejudice dies hard
go hard with, to cause pain or difficulty to (someone): it will go hard with you if you don’t tell the truth
hard at it, working hard
hard put, hard put to it, scarcely having the capacity (to do something): he’s hard put to get to work by 9:30
any colorant that produces a harsh coarse appearance
(Brit) a roadway across a foreshore
(slang) hard labour
(slang) an erection of the penis (esp in the phrase get or have a hard on)

Old English heard “solid, firm, not soft,” also “severe, rigorous, cruel,” from Proto-Germanic *hardu- (cf. Old Saxon and Dutch hard, Old Norse harðr “hard,” Old High German harto “extremely, very,” German hart, Gothic hardus “hard”), from PIE *kortu-, (cf. Greek kratos “strength,” kratys “strong”), from root *kar-/*ker- “hard.” Meaning “difficult to do” is from c.1200. The adverb sense was also present in Old English.

Hard of hearing preserves obsolete Middle English sense of “having difficulty in doing something.” Hard liquor is 1879, American English (hard drink is from 1810; hard cider is from 1789), and this probably led to hard drugs (1955). Hard facts is from 1887; hard news is from 1938. Hard copy (as opposed to computer record) is from 1964; hard disk is from 1978. Hard up (1610s) is originally nautical, of steering (slang sense of “short of money” is from 1821), as is hard and fast (1680s), of a ship on shore. Hard times “period of poverty” is from 1705.

Hard money (1706) is specie, as opposed to paper. Hence 19c. U.S. hard (n.) “one who advocates the use of metallic money as the national currency” (1844). To play hard to get is from 1945. Hard rock as a pop music style recorded from 1967.


Demonstrable; verifiable; not dependent on subjective judgment, emotion, etc: A comprehensive set of hard figures emerged for the first time (1960s+)
tough (1818+)
Excellent; good; cool (1930s+ Jive talk)


hard-on (1893+)

Related Terms

take it hard

hard act to follow
hard and fast
hard as nails
hard bargain
hard cash
hard feelings
hard hat
hard hit, be
hard line
hard liquor
hard luck
hard nut to crack
hard of hearing
hard on
hard on someone’s heels
hard pressed
hard put, be
hard row to hoe
hard sell
hard time
hard up
hard way, the


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