- scarcely; barely: we hardly knew the family
- just; only just: he could hardly hold the cup
- often ironic almost or probably not or not at all: he will hardly incriminate himself
- with difficulty or effort
- rare harshly or cruelly
WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2020
hard•ly /ˈhɑrdli/USA pronunciation adv.WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2020
- only just;
barely:We hardly ever see you anymore.
- not at all;
scarcely:It's hardly surprising that we lost money during the recession.
- with little likelihood:They will hardly come now.
hard•ly (härd′lē),USA pronunciation adv.
- only just;
barely:We had hardly reached the lake when it started raining. hardly any; hardly ever.
- not at all;
scarcely:That report is hardly surprising.
- with little likelihood:He will hardly come now.
- forcefully or vigorously.
- with pain or difficulty.
- [Brit.]harshly or severely.
- 1175–1225; Middle English; Old English heardlice. See hard, -ly
- 1.See corresponding entry in Unabridged Hardly, barely, scarcely imply a narrow margin by which performance was, is, or will be achieved. Hardly, though often interchangeable with scarcely and barely, usually emphasizes the idea of the difficulty involved:We could hardly endure the winter.Barely emphasizes the narrowness of the margin of safety, "only just and no more'':We barely succeeded.Scarcely implies a very narrow margin, below satisfactory performance:He can scarcely read.
- 1, 3. Hardly, barely, and scarcely all have a negative connotation, and the use of any of them with a negative like can't or couldn't is often condemned as a double negative and thus considered nonstandard:I can't hardly wait.Such constructions do occur occasionally in the speech of educated persons, often with jocular intent (You can't hardly get that kind any more) but are not found in formal speech or writing. When hardly in the sense "only just, almost not'' is followed by a clause, the usual word to introduce the clause is when: The telephone had hardly stopped ringing when (not than) the doorbell rang. See also double negative.
Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::
hardly /ˈhɑːdlɪ/ adv
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
'hardly' also found in these entries (note: many are not synonyms or translations):
O'Brien - approach - barely - bear - breathe - breathing space - cirrostratus - crack - date - decrepit - double negative - dry - ess - fancy - few - fine - for - hint - ill - less - little - mogilalia - overpass - rap - rarely - scant - scarcely - seemly - semiliterate - swivet - tell - that - thousand - tight - upon - water - while - wonder