Skip to main content


hard / härd/ • adj. 1. solid, firm, and resistant to pressure; not easily broken, bent, or pierced: a hard mattress ground frozen hard as a rock. ∎  (of a person) not showing any signs of weakness; tough: the hard, tough, honest cop. ∎  (of information) reliable, esp. because based on something true or substantiated: hard facts about the underclass are maddeningly elusive. ∎  (of a subject of study) dealing with precise and verifiable facts: efforts to turn psychology into hard science. ∎  (of water) containing mineral salts that make lathering difficult. ∎  (of prices of stock, commodities, etc.) stable or firm in value. ∎  (of science fiction) scientifically accurate rather than purely fantastic or whimsical: a hard SF novel. ∎  (of a consonant) pronounced as c in cat or g in go. 2. requiring a great deal of endurance or physical or mental effort: stooping over all day was hard work | she found it hard to believe that he could be involved. ∎  putting a lot of energy into an activity: he'd been a hard worker all his life. ∎  difficult to bear; causing suffering: times were hard at the end of the war he'd had a hard life. ∎  not showing sympathy or affection; strict: he can be such a hard taskmaster. ∎  (of a season or the weather) severe: it's been a long, hard winter. ∎  harsh or unpleasant to the senses: the hard light of morning. ∎  (of wine) harsh or sharp to the taste, esp. because of tannin. 3. done with a great deal of force or strength: a hard blow to the head. 4. potent, powerful, or intense, in particular: ∎  (of liquor) strongly alcoholic; denoting distilled spirits rather than beer or wine. ∎ (of apple cider) having alcoholic content from fermentation. ∎  (of a drug) potent and addictive. ∎  denoting an extreme or dogmatic faction within a political party: the hard left. ∎  (of radiation) highly penetrating. ∎  (of pornography) highly obscene and explicit. • adv. 1. with a great deal of effort: they work hard at school. ∎  with a great deal of force; violently: it was raining hard. 2. so as to be solid or firm: the mortar has set hard. 3. to the fullest extent possible: put the wheel hard over to starboard. PHRASES: be hard on 1. treat or criticize (someone) severely: you're being too hard on her. 2. be difficult for or unfair to: I think the war must have been hard on her. 3. be likely to hurt or damage: the monitor flickers, which is hard on the eyes. be hard put find it very difficult: you'll be hard put to find a better compromise. give someone a hard time inf. deliberately make a situation difficult for someone. go hard with dated turn out to (someone's) disadvantage: it would go hard with the poor. hard and fast (of a rule or a distinction made) fixed and definitive: it is impossible to lay down any hard and fast rules. hard as nailssee nail. hard at it inf. busily working or occupied: they were hard at it with brooms and mops. hard by close to: he lived hard by the cathedral. hard feelings feelings of resentment: there are no hard feelings, and we wish him well. hard going difficult to understand or enjoy: the studying is at times hard going. hard hit badly affected: hard hit by falling oil prices. a hard nut to crack inf. a person or thing that is difficult to understand or influence. hard of hearing not able to hear well. hard on (or upon) close to; following soon after: we followed hard on their tracks. hard up inf. short of money: I'm too hard up to buy fancy clothes. the hard way through suffering or learning from the unpleasant consequences of mistakes: his reputation was earned the hard way. play hard to get inf. deliberately adopt an aloof or uninterested attitude, typically in order to make oneself more attractive or interesting.DERIVATIVES: hard·ish adj. hard·ness n.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"hard." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . 17 Feb. 2019 <>.

"hard." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . (February 17, 2019).

"hard." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved February 17, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.