Difference Between
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Hard vs. Tough: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 26, 2023
Hard refers to something physically solid, unyielding, or difficult to break, whereas tough denotes durability, resilience, or difficulty in enduring circumstances.
Hard vs. Tough

Key Differences

Hard is often used to describe a solid, firm surface or material, indicating its physical resistance to force or pressure. Tough, on the other hand, implies a level of durability and resilience, suggesting an object or material can withstand stress without breaking.
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Dec 26, 2023
In terms of difficulty, hard implies a challenging or demanding situation or task, often requiring effort or skill to overcome. Tough is used to describe situations or conditions that are harsh, demanding endurance or resilience.
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When referring to people, describing someone as hard may imply they are unyielding or strict, while calling someone tough often suggests they are strong-willed or able to endure hardships.
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In the context of food, a hard texture is firm and solid, possibly difficult to chew. In contrast, tough food requires a lot of chewing because it's fibrous or stringy.
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In intellectual or abstract contexts, hard can denote something that is complex and difficult to understand, while tough can refer to emotionally or mentally challenging situations.
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Comparison Chart

Physical Texture

Solid, unyielding
Durable, resilient
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Difficulty Level

Challenging, demanding effort
Harsh, requiring endurance
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Characteristic in People

Unyielding, strict
Strong-willed, enduring
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Food Texture

Firm, possibly chewy
Fibrous, requires much chewing
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Abstract Concepts

Complex, difficult to grasp
Emotionally/Mentally demanding
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Hard and Tough Definitions

Hard

Solid
The rock was hard and cold to the touch.
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Tough

Difficult
It's tough to learn a new language at her age.
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Hard

Difficult
Solving this puzzle is really hard.
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Tough

Harsh
Surviving the tough winter required preparation.
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Hard

Severe
She faced hard consequences for her actions.
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Tough

Able to withstand great strain without tearing or breaking; strong and resilient
A tough all-weather fabric.
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Hard

Unyielding
His hard stance on the issue surprised everyone.
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Tough

Hard to cut or chew
Tough meat.
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Hard

Laborious
It was a hard day's work in the fields.
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Tough

Physically hardy; rugged
Tough mountaineers.
A tough cop.
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Hard

Resistant to pressure; not readily penetrated; firm or solid
A hard material.
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Tough

Strong-minded; resolute
A tough negotiator.
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Hard

Well protected from an attack, as by aerial bombardment
Bunkers and other hard targets.
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Tough

Aggressive; pugnacious.
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Hard

Requiring great effort or endurance
A hard assignment.
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Tough

Inclined to violent or disruptive behavior; rowdy or rough
A tough street group.
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Hard

Performed with or marked by great diligence or energy
A project that required years of hard work.
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Tough

Difficult to endure; severe; harsh
A tough winter.
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Hard

Difficult to resolve, accomplish, or finish
That was a hard question.
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Tough

Trying or unpleasant
Had a tough day.
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Hard

Difficult to understand or impart
Physics was the hardest of my courses. Thermodynamics is a hard course to teach.
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Tough

Difficult to deal with; demanding or troubling
It's tough to go to school and work a full-time job. The exam had many tough questions.
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Hard

Proceeding or performing with force, vigor, or persistence; assiduous
A hard worker.
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Tough

(Informal) Unfortunate; too bad
It was a tough break to get sick on the day of the concert.
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Hard

Intense in force or degree
A hard blow.
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Tough

(Slang) Fine; great.
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Hard

Inclement or severe
A long, hard winter.
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Tough

A violent or rowdy person; a hoodlum or thug.
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Hard

Stern, strict, or demanding
A hard taskmaster.
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Tough

(of a material) Strong and resilient; sturdy.
The tent, made of tough canvas, held up to many abuses.
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Hard

Lacking compassion or sympathy; callous
Became hard after years in prison.
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Tough

(of food) Difficult to cut or chew.
To soften a tough cut of meat, the recipe suggested simmering it for hours.
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Hard

Difficult to endure; causing hardship or suffering
A hard life.
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Tough

(of a person or animal) Rugged or physically hardy.
Only a tough species will survive in the desert.
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Hard

Oppressive or unjust in nature or effect
Restrictions that were hard on welfare applicants.
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Tough

(of a person) Stubborn or persistent; capable of stubbornness or persistence.
He had a reputation as a tough negotiator.
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Hard

Harsh or severe in effect or intention
I said some hard things that I regret.
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Tough

(of weather, etc.) Harsh or severe.
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Hard

Marked by stubborn refusal to compromise or yield; uncompromising
Drives a hard bargain.
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Tough

Rowdy or rough.
A bunch of the tough boys from the wrong side of the tracks threatened him.
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Hard

Bitter or resentful
Hard feelings caused by the insult.
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Tough

(of questions, etc.) Difficult or demanding.
This is a tough crowd.
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Hard

Showing disapproval, bitterness, or resentment
Gave me a hard look.
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Tough

(material science) Undergoing plastic deformation before breaking.
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Hard

Causing damage or premature wear
Snow and ice are hard on a car's finish.
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Tough

(slang) Used to indicate lack of sympathy
If you don't like it, tough!
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Hard

Bad; adverse
Hard luck.
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Tough

A person who obtains things by force; a thug or bully.
They were doing fine until they encountered a bunch of toughs from the opposition.
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Hard

Real and unassailable
Hard evidence.
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Tough

To endure.
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Hard

Definite; firm
A hard commitment.
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Tough

To toughen.
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Hard

Free from illusion or sentimentality; practical or realistic
We need to take a hard look at the situation.
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Tough

Having the quality of flexibility without brittleness; yielding to force without breaking; capable of resisting great strain; as, the ligaments of animals are remarkably tough.
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Hard

Using or based on data that are readily quantified or verified
The hard sciences.
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Tough

Not easily broken; able to endure hardship; firm; strong; - of objects and people; as, tough sinews.
A body made of brass, the crone demands, . . . Tough to the last, and with no toil to tire.
The basis of his character was caution combined with tough tenacity of purpose.
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Hard

Marked by sharp delineation or contrast
A hard line separating the two lists.
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Tough

Not easily separated; viscous; clammy; tenacious; as, tough phlegm.
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Hard

Lacking in shade; undiminished
The hard light of the midday sun.
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Tough

Stiff; rigid; not flexible; stubborn; as, a tough bow.
So tough a frame she could not bend.
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Hard

Hardcore.
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Tough

Severe; violent; as, a tough storm.
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Hard

Being a turn in a specific direction at an angle more acute than other possible routes.
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Tough

Difficult to do, perform, or accomplish; as, a tough job.
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Hard

Metallic, as opposed to paper. Used of currency.
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Tough

Prone to aggressive or violent behavior; rowdyish; - of people, or groups; as, a tough neighborhood; a tough character.
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Hard

Backed by bullion rather than by credit. Used of currency.
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Tough

A person who is tough{7}; a ruffian; a thug; as, a cluster of neighborhood toughs hanging out on the corner.
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Hard

High and stable. Used of prices.
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Tough

Someone who learned to fight in the streets rather than being formally trained in the sport of boxing
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Hard

Durable; lasting
Hard merchandise.
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Tough

An aggressive and violent young criminal
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Hard

Written or printed rather than stored in electronic media
Sent the information by hard mail.
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Tough

A cruel and brutal fellow
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Hard

Erect; tumid. Used of a penis.
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Tough

Not given to gentleness or sentimentality;
A tough character
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Hard

Having high alcoholic content; intoxicating
Hard liquor.
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Tough

Very difficult; severely testing stamina or resolution;
A rugged competitive examination
The rugged conditions of frontier life
The competition was tough
It's a tough life
It was a tough job
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Hard

Rendered alcoholic by fermentation; fermented
Hard cider.
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Tough

Physically toughened;
The tough bottoms of his feet
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Hard

Containing dissolved salts that interfere with the lathering action of soap or other cleansing agents. Used of water.
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Tough

Substantially made or constructed;
Sturdy steel shelves
Sturdy canvas
A tough all-weather fabric
Some plastics are as tough as metal
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Hard

(Linguistics) Velar, as in c in cake or g in log, as opposed to palatal or soft.
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Tough

Violent and lawless;
The more ruffianly element
Tough street gangs
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Hard

(Physics) Of relatively high energy; penetrating
Hard x-rays.
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Tough

Feeling physical discomfort or pain (`tough' is occasionally used colloquially for `bad');
My throat feels bad
She felt bad all over
He was feeling tough after a restless night
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Hard

High in gluten content
Hard wheat.
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Tough

Tough to cut or chew
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Hard

(Chemistry) Resistant to biodegradation
A hard detergent.
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Tough

Unfortunate or hard to bear;
Had hard luck
A tough break
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Hard

Extremely or dangerously addictive. Used of certain illegal drugs, such as heroin.
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Tough

Resilient
The tough material withstood heavy use.
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Hard

With strenuous effort; intently
Worked hard all day.
Stared hard at the accused criminal.
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Tough

Strong
He's tough enough to handle the challenge.
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Hard

With great force, vigor, or energy
Pressed hard on the lever.
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Tough

Uncompromising
She had a tough attitude towards negotiations.
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Hard

In such a way as to cause great damage or hardship
Industrial cities hit hard by unemployment.
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Hard

With great distress, grief, or bitterness
Took the divorce hard.
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Hard

Firmly; securely
Held hard to the railing.
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Hard

Toward or into a solid condition
Concrete that sets hard within a day.
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Hard

Near in space or time; close
The factory stands hard by the railroad tracks.
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Hard

(Nautical) Completely; fully
Hard alee.
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Hard

(of material or fluid) Having a severe property; presenting difficulty.
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Hard

Resistant to pressure.
This bread is so stale and hard, I can barely cut it.
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Hard

(of drink or drugs) Strong.
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Hard

(of a normally nonalcoholic drink) Containing alcohol.
Hard cider, hard lemonade, hard seltzer, hard soda
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Hard

(of water) High in dissolved chemical salts, especially those of calcium.
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Hard

Having the capability of being a permanent magnet by being a material with high magnetic coercivity (compare soft).
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Hard

Having a high energy (high frequency; short wavelength).
Hard X-rays
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Hard

Made up of parallel rays, producing clearly defined shadows.
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Hard

(personal or social) Having a severe property; presenting difficulty.
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Hard

Difficult or requiring a lot of effort to do, understand, experience, or deal with.
A hard problem;
A hard question;
A hard topic
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Hard

Demanding a lot of effort to endure.
A hard life
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Hard

Severe, harsh, unfriendly, brutal.
A hard master;
A hard heart;
Hard words;
A hard character
The senator asked the party chief to put the hard word on his potential rivals.
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Hard

(dated) Difficult to resist or control; powerful.
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Hard

(military) Hardened; having unusually strong defences.
A hard site
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Hard

(slang) Tough and muscular.
He thinks he's well hard.
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Hard

Unquestionable, unequivocal.
Hard evidence;
A hard requirement
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Hard

(of a road intersection) Having a comparatively larger or a ninety-degree angle.
At the intersection, there are two roads going to the left. Take the hard left.
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Hard

Sexually aroused; having an erect penis.
I got so hard watching two hot girls wrestle each other on the beach.
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Hard

(bodybuilding) Having muscles that are tightened as a result of intense, regular exercise.
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Hard

Fortis.
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Hard

Plosive.
There is a hard c in "clock" and a soft c in "centre".
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Hard

Unvoiced.
Hard k, t, s, ch, as distinguished from soft, g, d, z, j.
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Hard

(Slavic phonology) Velarized or plain, rather than palatalized.
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Hard

(arts) Having a severe property; presenting a barrier to enjoyment.
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Hard

Rigid in the drawing or distribution of the figures; formal; lacking grace of composition.
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Hard

Having disagreeable and abrupt contrasts in colour or shading.
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Hard

(uncomparable)
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Hard

In a physical form, not digital.
A soft or hard copy; a digital or hard archive
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Hard

Using a manual or physical process, not by means of a software command.
A hard reboot or reset
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Hard

(politics) Far, extreme.
Hard right, hard left
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Hard

Of silk: not having had the natural gum boiled off.
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Hard

(finance) Of a market: having more demand than supply; being a seller's market.
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Hard

(manner) With much force or effort.
He hit the puck hard up the ice.
They worked hard all week.
At the intersection, bear hard left.
The recession hit them especially hard.
Think hard about your choices.
The couple were fucking each other hard.
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Hard

(manner) With difficulty.
His degree was hard earned.
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Hard

(obsolete) So as to raise difficulties.
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Hard

(manner) Compactly.
The lake had finally frozen hard.
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Hard

Near, close.
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Hard

A firm or paved beach or slope convenient for hauling vessels out of the water.
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Hard

A tyre whose compound is softer than superhards, and harder than mediums.
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Hard

Crack cocaine.
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Hard

Hard labor.
The prisoners were sentenced to three years' hard.
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Hard

Not easily penetrated, cut, or separated into parts; not yielding to pressure; firm; solid; compact; - applied to material bodies, and opposed to soft; as, hard wood; hard flesh; a hard apple.
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Hard

Difficult, mentally or judicially; not easily apprehended, decided, or resolved; as a hard problem.
The hard causes they brought unto Moses.
In which are some things hard to be understood.
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Hard

Difficult to accomplish; full of obstacles; laborious; fatiguing; arduous; as, a hard task; a disease hard to cure.
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Hard

Difficult to resist or control; powerful.
The stag was too hard for the horse.
A power which will be always too hard for them.
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Hard

Difficult to bear or endure; not easy to put up with or consent to; hence, severe; rigorous; oppressive; distressing; unjust; grasping; as, a hard lot; hard times; hard fare; a hard winter; hard conditions or terms.
I never could drive a hard bargain.
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Hard

Difficult to please or influence; stern; unyielding; obdurate; unsympathetic; unfeeling; cruel; as, a hard master; a hard heart; hard words; a hard character.
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Hard

Not easy or agreeable to the taste; harsh; stiff; rigid; ungraceful; repelling; as, a hard style.
Figures harder than even the marble itself.
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Hard

Rough; acid; sour, as liquors; as, hard cider.
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Oct 19, 2023

Hard

Abrupt or explosive in utterance; not aspirated, sibilated, or pronounced with a gradual change of the organs from one position to another; - said of certain consonants, as c in came, and g in go, as distinguished from the same letters in center, general, etc.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

Wanting softness or smoothness of utterance; harsh; as, a hard tone.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

Rigid in the drawing or distribution of the figures; formal; lacking grace of composition.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

With pressure; with urgency; hence, diligently; earnestly.
And prayed so hard for mercy from the prince.
My fatherIs hard at study; pray now, rest yourself.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

With difficulty; as, the vehicle moves hard.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

Uneasily; vexatiously; slowly.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

So as to raise difficulties.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

With tension or strain of the powers; violently; with force; tempestuously; vehemently; vigorously; energetically; as, to press, to blow, to rain hard; hence, rapidly; nimbly; as, to run hard.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

Close or near.
Whose house joined hard to the synagogue.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

To harden; to make hard.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

A ford or passage across a river or swamp.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

Not easy; requiring great physical or mental effort to accomplish or comprehend or endure;
A difficult task
Nesting places on the cliffs are difficult of access
Difficult times
A difficult child
Found himself in a difficult situation
Why is it so hard for you to keep a secret?
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

Metaphorically hard;
A hard fate
Took a hard look
A hard bargainer
A hard climb
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

Not yielding to pressure or easily penetrated;
Hard as rock
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

Very strong or vigorous;
Strong winds
A hard left to the chin
A knockout punch
A severe blow
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

Characterized by toilsome effort to the point of exhaustion; especially physical effort;
Worked their arduous way up the mining valley
A grueling campaign
Hard labor
Heavy work
Heavy going
Spent many laborious hours on the project
Set a punishing pace
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

Of speech sounds
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

Of a drinker or drinking; indulging intemperately;
Does a lot of hard drinking
A heavy drinker
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

Having undergone fermentation;
Hard cider
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

Having a high alcoholic content;
Hard liquor
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

Unfortunate or hard to bear;
Had hard luck
A tough break
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

Dried out;
Hard dry rolls left over from the day before
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

With effort or force or vigor;
The team played hard
Worked hard all day
Pressed hard on the lever
Hit the ball hard
Slammed the door hard
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

With firmness;
Held hard to the railing
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

Earnestly or intently;
Thought hard about it
Stared hard at the accused
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

Causing great damage or hardship;
Industries hit hard by the depression
She was severely affected by the bank's failure
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

Slowly and with difficulty;
Prejudices die hard
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

Indulging excessively;
He drank heavily
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

Into a solid condition;
Concrete that sets hard within a few hours
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

Very near or close in space or time;
It stands hard by the railroad tracks
They were hard on his heels
A strike followed hard upon the plant's opening
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

With pain or distress or bitterness;
He took the rejection very hard
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hard

To the full extent possible; all the way;
Hard alee
The ship went hard astern
Swung the wheel hard left
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

What does "hard" mean in a physical context?

It refers to something solid and unyielding.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Can "hard" imply difficulty?

Yes, it often refers to challenging tasks or situations.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Is "tough" used to describe difficult conditions?

Yes, especially those requiring endurance.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

How is "tough" used to describe materials?

It indicates durability and resilience.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

What does "hard" mean when describing a person's character?

It suggests they are strict or unyielding.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

How does "hard" describe food texture?

It means firm, possibly difficult to chew.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

How does "tough" describe a person?

It implies strength, resilience, and endurance.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Can "tough" describe a challenging life situation?

Yes, particularly one that tests resilience.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Is "tough" used in emotional contexts?

Yes, for situations that are mentally or emotionally demanding.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Can "hard" mean severe or harsh?

Yes, it can describe severe conditions or strict rules.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Is "hard" associated with labor-intensive work?

Yes, it's often used to describe physically demanding tasks.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Can "hard" refer to a strict discipline or approach?

Yes, like a hard-line political stance.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Can "hard" relate to intellectual challenges?

Yes, it can denote complex or difficult-to-understand concepts.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

What does "tough" mean in the context of food?

It refers to fibrous or stringy texture, hard to chew.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Does "tough" have a colloquial usage?

Yes, it's often used informally to describe difficult circumstances or resilient individuals.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Does "tough" imply uncompromising attitudes?

Yes, it can refer to a firm or unyielding stance.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

How is "tough" used in sports terminology?

It often describes a player or team that's resilient and hard to defeat.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

How does "hard" relate to economic situations?

It can describe challenging economic conditions.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Is "hard" used in the context of sound or music?

It can describe a loud, forceful sound or a genre of music like hard rock.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Is "tough" used to describe weather conditions?

Yes, especially harsh or challenging weather.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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