Also found in: Thesaurus, Idioms.


1. To almost no degree; barely at all; almost not: I could hardly hear the speaker.
2. Probably or surely not: He is hardly the kind of guy you would want to date. It's hardly a secret that they are engaged.
3. With great difficulty or effort: I could hardly get up the stairs.
4. With severity; harshly: "The winter months would deal hardly with many of these poor folk" (William Black).

[Middle English hardli, from Old English heardlīce, harshly, bravely, from heard, hard; see hard.]
Usage Note: In Standard English, hardly, scarcely, and similar adverbs cannot be used with a negative. The sentence I couldn't hardly see him, for instance, is not acceptable. This violation of the double negative rule is curious because these adverbs are not truly negative in meaning. Rather, they minimize the state or event they describe. Thus hardly means "almost not at all," rarely means "practically never," and so forth. The sentence Mary hardly laughed means that Mary did laugh a little, not that she kept from laughing altogether, and therefore does not express a negative proposition. But adverbs like hardly and scarcely do share some important features of negative adverbs, even though they may not have purely negative meaning. For one thing, they combine with any and at all, which are characteristically associated with negative contexts. Thus we say I hardly saw him at all or I never saw him at all but not I occasionally saw him at all. Similarly, we say I hardly had any time or I didn't have any time but not I had any time and so on. Like other negative adverbs, hardly triggers inversion of the subject and auxiliary verb when it begins a sentence. Thus we say Hardly had I arrived when she left on the pattern of Never have I read such a book. · Hardly and other minimizing adverbs are properly followed by when and not than in sentences like I had hardly walked inside [when/than] it began to rain. In our 2008 survey, 79 percent of the Usage Panel rejected the use of than in the previous sentence. See Usage Notes at double negative, rarely, scarcely.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. scarcely; barely: we hardly knew the family.
2. just; only just: he could hardly hold the cup.
3. often ironic almost or probably not or not at all: he will hardly incriminate himself.
4. with difficulty or effort
5. rare harshly or cruelly
Usage: Since hardly, scarcely, and barely already have negative force, it is redundant to use another negative in the same clause: he had hardly had (not he hadn't hardly had) time to think; there was scarcely any (not scarcely no) bread left
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈhɑrd li)

1. only just; almost not; barely: hardly any; hardly ever.
2. not at all; scarcely: That report is hardly surprising.
3. with little likelihood: He will hardly come now.
4. Brit. harshly or severely.
5. hard.
syn: hardly, barely, scarcely imply a narrow margin of sufficiency. hardly usu. emphasizes the difficulty or sacrifice involved: We could hardly endure the winter. barely implies no more than the minimum, as in performance or quantity: We barely succeeded. scarcely implies an even narrower margin, usu. below a satisfactory level: He can scarcely read.
usage: hardly, barely, scarcely all have a negative connotation, and the use of any of them with a supplementary negative (I can't hardly remember) is characteristic of dialectical or informal speech rather than edited writing. See also double negative.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. 'hard'

Hard can be an adjective. If something is hard, it is not easy to do.

Coping with three babies is very hard work.

Hard can also be an adverb. For example, if you work hard, you work with a lot of effort.

Many elderly people have worked hard all their lives.
2. 'hardly'

Hardly is an adverb. It has a totally different meaning from hard. You use hardly to modify a statement when you want to emphasize that only a small amount or detail makes it true, and it is best to consider the opposite as true. For example, if someone hardly speaks, they do not speak much. If something is hardly surprising, it is not very surprising.

I hardly knew him.
Nick hardly slept because he was so worried.

If you use an auxiliary verb or modal with hardly, you put the auxiliary verb or modal first. You say, for example, 'I can hardly see'. Don't say 'I hardly can see'.

Two years before, the wall had hardly existed.
She can hardly wait to begin.
We could hardly move.

Be Careful!
Don't use 'not' with hardly. Don't say, for example, 'I did not hardly know him'. Say 'I hardly knew him'.

Hardly is sometimes used in longer structures to say that one thing happened immediately after another.

The local police had hardly finished their search when the detectives arrived.

Be Careful!
In structures like these you use when, not 'than'. Don't say, for example, 'The local police had hardly finished their search than the detectives arrived'.

In stories, hardly is sometimes put at the beginning of a sentence, followed by had or the verb be and the subject.

Hardly had he uttered the words when he began laughing.
3. 'hardly ever'

If something hardly ever happens, it almost never happens.

I hardly ever spoke to them.
Tim hardly ever met her friends.
Collins COBUILD English Usage © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 2004, 2011, 2012
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adv.1.hardly - only a very short time beforehardly - only a very short time before; "they could barely hear the speaker"; "we hardly knew them"; "just missed being hit"; "had scarcely rung the bell when the door flew open"; "would have scarce arrived before she would have found some excuse to leave"- W.B.Yeats
2.hardly - almost not; "he hardly ever goes fishing"; "he was hardly more than sixteen years old"; "they scarcely ever used the emergency generator"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


1. barely, only just, scarcely, just, faintly, with difficulty, infrequently, with effort, at a push (Brit. informal), almost not Nick, on the sofa, hardly slept.
barely really, more than, completely, certainly, amply, easily, fully, truly, undoubtedly, well over, by all means, abundantly, indubitably
2. only just, just, only, barely, not quite, scarcely I could hardly see the garden for the fog.
3. not at all, not, no way, by no means It's hardly surprising his ideas didn't catch on.
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


By a very little; almost not:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
بِالكَادبالكاد، بِصُعوبَه، بِشَق النَّفْستَقْريبا لارُبَّما لاقليلاً ما
gotovo nikadjedva
meî naumindumtæplegavarla
거의 ...않다거의~않다
beveik nebeveik neivargu ar
diez vaigandrīzgandrīz nekadhardly evertik tikko
skoro nie
güçlüklehemen hemen hiçpek olası değilzorluklaancak
gần như chưa bao giờhiếm khi


[ˈhɑːdlɪ] ADVapenas
I hardly know himapenas lo conozco, casi no lo conozco
I can hardly believe itapenas puedo creerlocasi no puedo creerlo
I could hardly understand a wordapenas entendí palabrano pude entender casi nada
she had hardly any moneyapenas tenía dinerono tenía casi dinero
hardly a day goes by when we don't argueapenas pasa un día sin que discutamos
we could hardly refuse¿cómo podíamos negarnos?
she's hardly what you'd call a cordon bleu chef (iro) → no es precisamente or no es lo que se dice un cocinero de primera
that can hardly be trueeso difícilmente puede ser verdad
that is hardly likelyeso es poco probable
it's hardly surprising!¡no me extraña or sorprende!
"do you think he'll pass?" - "hardly!"-¿crees que aprobará? -¡qué va! or ¡ni hablar!
hardly anyonecasi nadie
hardly anythingcasi nada
there was hardly anywhere to gono había casi ningún sitio donde ir
hardly evercasi nunca
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[ˈhɑːrdli] adv
(= scarcely) → à peine
I hardly know you → Je te connais à peine.
I can hardly believe it
BUT J'ai du mal à le croire.
It's hardly the case
BUT Ce n'est guère le cas.
It's hardly surprising
BUT Ça n'a rien de surprenant.
to have hardly done sth when ...
He had hardly sat down when the door burst open.; Hardly had he sat down when the door burst open → À peine était-il assis que la porte s'ouvrit brusquement.
hardly ever → presque jamais
hardly anywhere → presque nulle part
hardly anyone → presque personne
(= harshly) → durement
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


(= barely)kaum; I hardly knew himich kannte ihn kaum; the boy was hardly seventeender Junge war kaum or keine siebzehn; I could understand hardly a wordich konnte kaum ein Wort or fast kein Wort verstehen; hardly everfast nie; hardly any moneyfast kein Geld; it’s worth hardly anythinges ist fast nichts wert; you’ve hardly eaten anythingdu hast (ja) kaum etwas gegessen; I hardly know any Frenchich kann kaum Französisch or fast kein Französisch; there was hardly anywhere to goman konnte fast nirgends hingehen; hardly a day goes by when we don’t read about murder in the newspaperes vergeht kaum ein Tag, an dem wir nicht von Mordfällen in der Zeitung lesen; I can still hardly believe itich kann es immer noch kaum glauben; hardly had he uttered the words when he began laughinger hatte die Worte kaum ausgesprochen, als er anfing zu lachen
(= certainly not)wohl kaum; I will hardly need to remind you to be polite to your grandmotherich muss euch wohl kaum daran erinnern, höflich zu eurer Großmutter zu sein; will she remember? — hardly!wird sie daran denken? — bestimmt nicht!
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[ˈhɑːdlɪ] adv (scarcely) → appena, a mala pena
she can hardly read → riesce a malapena a leggere
that can hardly be true → non può essere vero
I hardly know him → lo conosco appena
it's hardly the case → non è proprio il caso
I can hardly believe it → stento a crederci
I need hardly point out that ... → non c'è bisogno che io faccia notare che...
this is hardly the time → non è di sicuro il momento
hardly anyone/anything → quasi nessuno/niente
hardly ever → quasi mai
hardly anywhere → quasi da nessuna parte
hardly! → figuriamoci!, neanche per idea!
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(ˈhaːdli) adverb
1. almost no, none, never etc. Hardly any small businesses are successful nowadays; I hardly ever go out.
2. only just; almost not. My feet are so sore, I can hardly walk; I had hardly got on my bicycle when I got a puncture.
3. probably not. He's hardly likely to forgive you after what you said about him.
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.


بِالكَاد, قليلاً ما sotva næppe, næsten kaum ελάχιστα, σπάνια apenas, casi, casi nadie/casi nunca tuskin à peine, presque gotovo nikad, jedva quasi, scarsamente ほとんど・・・ない, めったに・・・しない 거의 ...않다, 거의~않다 bijna, nauwelijks knapt, sjelden ledwie, zaledwie dificilmente едва, почти никогда knappast, nästan เกือบจะไม่, แทบจะไม่ asla, güçlükle gần như chưa bao giờ, hiếm khi 几乎不
Multilingual Translator © HarperCollins Publishers 2009
References in classic literature ?
In this way many years passed, and the Prince grew to manhood, and hardly anyone remembered the Queen's warning, though precautions were still taken, more from use and wont than for any other reason.
The queen, then, being dead, and not in a swoon, we buried her; and hardly had we covered her with earth, hardly had we said our last farewells, when, quis talia fando temperet a lachrymis?
"I can hardly doubt that it is Porlock's writing, though I have seen it only twice before.
"Our balloon is hardly large enough to admit of that little experiment--but I think our direction is changing.
Then, if the boy has read a good many other books, he is taken with that abundance of literary turn and allusion in Thackeray; there is hardly a sentence but reminds him that he is in the society of a great literary swell, who has read everything, and can mock or burlesque life right and left from the literature always at his command.
Observant persons, accustomed to frequent the London parks, can hardly have failed to notice the number of solitary strangers sadly endeavoring to vary their lives by taking a walk.
If you had seen little Jo standing at the street corner in the rain, you would hardly have admired him.
In plain language, the only way he could possibly find to account for the possession of this note, was by robbery: and, to confess the truth, the reader, unless he should suspect it was owing to the generosity of Lady Bellaston, can hardly imagine any other.
The higher they flew with the mirror, the more terribly it grinned: they could hardly hold it fast.
Yet it could hardly have been scuttled to hide their traces,--though that always remained as a possible hypothesis if all else failed.
No one, at least, can think I have not done enough for them: even themselves, they can hardly expect more."
It's hardly worth while to pry into young men's fooleries: it wouldn't have made any difference to you, sir, if I'd not had the bad luck to lose Wildfire.