AskDefine | Define hardly

Dictionary Definition

hardly adv
1 by a small margin; "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 [syn: barely, just, scarcely, scarce]
2 almost not; "he hardly ever goes fishing"; "he was hardly more than sixteen years old"; "they scarcely ever used the emergency generator" [syn: scarcely]

User Contributed Dictionary



From hard + -ly.


  • a UK /ˈhɑːdli/
  • a US /ˈhɑɻdli/, /"hArdli/


  1. Firmly, vigorously, with strength or exertion.
    • 1603, John Florio, translating Michel de Montaigne, Essays, vol. 1 p. 148:
      Let him hardly be possest with an honest curiositie to search out the nature and causes of all things [...].
  2. Harshly, severely.
    I can't really deal hardly with people.
  3. With difficulty.
    He made his way hardly through the enemies to the castle.
  4. Barely, only just, almost not.
    I hardly ever watch television.
    I hardly think they'll come in this bad weather.

Usage notes

In sense 4. it is grammatically a negative word. It therefore collocates with ever rather than never.
  • Compare example sentence with I almost never watch television


barely, only just

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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