from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A hard biscuit or bread made with only flour and water.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Large, coarse, hard biscuit baked without salt and kiln-dried, much used by sailors and soldiers: ship-biscuit.
  • noun Same as hardhead, 6.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A name given by soldiers and sailors to a kind of unleavened hard biscuit or sea bread. Called also pilot biscuit, pilot bread, ship biscuit and ship bread
  • noun Any of several mahogany trees, esp. the Cercocarpus betuloides.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun nautical A large, hard biscuit made from unleavened flour and water; formerly used as a long-term staple food aboard ships.

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

  • noun a mountain mahogany
  • noun very hard unsalted biscuit or bread; a former ship's staple


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • “A new delicacy I found out about,” he said, and looked sidelong at Picard, “called hardtack.”


  • On the card was this message: "The Bible says, 'Love your enemies' -- here is an enemy for you to conquer," for it was a well-known fact that grandfather found it hard to overcome his dislike of the "hardtack," as he denominated the beaten biscuit prepared for him.

    Grandfather's Love Pie

  • Some of our first stores purchased were "hardtack" and corned beef, which we found we could procure from the steward of a Liverpool boat which was anchored off-shore.

    Head Hunters of the Amazon: Seven Years of Exploration and Adventure

  • With their brains we made a paste which, together with "hardtack," resulted in a delicious sandwich, resembling pâté de foie gras.

    Head Hunters of the Amazon: Seven Years of Exploration and Adventure

  • Pinetop, who was leisurely eating his breakfast of "hardtack" and bacon, took a long draught from his tin cup, and replied, as he wiped his mouth on his shirt sleeve, that he "reckoned thar wouldn't be any trouble about finding room for them, too."

    The Battle Ground

  • Water for drink, for fevered wounds and burning throats, they had in abundance; but the last "hardtack" had been shared, the last scrap of bacon long since devoured.

    An Apache Princess A Tale of the Indian Frontier

  • During the day a line of men came single file over the hill near the camp, each bearing on his shoulder a box of "hardtack" or crackers.

    Detailed Minutiae of Soldier life in the Army of Northern Virginia, 1861-1865

  • She wondered if this was what she’d read about in history books, what pioneering Americans had called hardtack.


  • "Starting at sunrise, we paddled and poled till noon, when we rested and ate" hardtack, "roast alligator (the remains of the white one), farinha (a kind of tapioca made from arrowroot, and one of the staple foods of Brazil), and molasses.

    Head Hunters of the Amazon: Seven Years of Exploration and Adventure

  • One and all, from the cook to Buckwheat, they swear they have no knowledge of any food for'ard, save the small supply in the galley and the barrel of hardtack in the forecastle.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Sometimes, it's a tree, but almost never a duricrust.

    January 2, 2013