from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Earning a bare subsistence, as on the land; marginal: the sharecropper's hardscrabble life.
  • n. Barren or marginal farmland.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Of or pertaining to land that takes a lot of work in order to farm and even then is not very productive.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. barely satisfying a lower standard


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

hard + scrabble


  • I didn't really use the word hardscrabble, though.

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  • It strikes as exceedingly odd that urban folk from the U.S. existing on social security benefits or estate incomes want to go and live in hardscrabble villages where people are eking out a living day to day so they can romp around in the bucolic quaintness the locals would give their eye teeth to escape.

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  • In the midst of that the reviewer talks about the show's gritty 1980s Northern England setting, describing it as 'hardscrabble' - what a great word.

    Going to see the Changingman

  • Oct. 12: 'Chronicles, Vol. 1': Bob Dylan's memoir (!) -- recalls his hardscrabble early days in the Village.


  • When described as hardscrabble (bare/impoverished) it does so in an inoffensive manner.

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  • Picking through the past: Bluegrass master Ralph Stanley recalls his hardscrabble upbringing and a life in music in the memoir, "Man of Constant Sorrow."


  • With her portrayal of the thick-skinned Ree Dolly in "Winter's Bone," Lawrence gave us the kind of hardscrabble, nearly hard-as-nails teen girl we rarely see onscreen.

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  • They are 'hardscrabble' (as Bubba might say) in that they are functional places for the poorer citizens of this fair town.

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  • After recounting her 'hardscrabble' Texan childhood in Cherry, Karr continues the story of her life and battle with alcoholism in

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  • She is going to obliterate Joey in spite of his "hardscrabble" upbringing (Democrat BS appeal) in Scranton.

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  • "On the hardscrabble lands of the American West, blood is spilled by the most innocent-looking of outlaws—the white-tailed prairie dog.

    These social rodents, native to Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and Montana, ruthlessly bite and thrash Wyoming ground squirrels to death, leaving their bloody bodies to rot, a new study says.

    The killers' offspring then live longer, healthier lives—probably because their parents bumped off their competition for food.

    It’s the first time that a herbivorous mammal has been seen killing competitors without eating them, suggesting that a plant-based diet doesn’t preclude mammals from having a taste for bloodsport."
    -National Geographic, Michael Greshko, March 22, 2016, "Praire dogs are serial killers that murder their competition".

    April 17, 2016

  • Earning a bare or meager living with great labor or difficulty. (From WordCraft)

    May 20, 2008