Share this entry

hardscrabble Line breaks: hard|scrab¦ble
Pronunciation: /hɑːdˈskrabl/

Definition of hardscrabble in English:


North American
Involving hard work and struggle: a brutally hardscrabble life
More example sentences
  • He's been through hard times: his hardscrabble childhood on the veld would make David Copperfield's seem cosseted by comparison.
  • Edwards, a wealthy trial lawyer first elected to the Senate in 1998, has built his candidacy around the belief that his hardscrabble upbringing uniquely equips him to understand the struggles of Democratic voters.
  • He remembered his own hardscrabble youth in Texas and vowed that the poor armadillos he grew up with would have a fighting chance at the American Dream if he could have any say in the matter.


Early 19th century: originally as a noun in the sense 'place thought of as the epitome of barrenness'.

Definition of hardscrabble in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day luxe
Pronunciation: lʌks
expensive and of high quality; luxurious