hardly vs scarcely what difference

what is difference between hardly and scarcely

English

Etymology

From Middle English hardely, hardliche, from Old English heardlīċe (boldly; hardily; without ease; in a way that causes pain; not easily; only by degrees), equivalent to hard +‎ -ly. Compare Dutch hardelijk, German härtlich.

Pronunciation

  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈhɑːdli/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈhɑɹdli/

Adverb

hardly (comparative hardlier or more hardly, superlative hardliest or most hardly)

  1. (manner, obsolete) Firmly, vigorously, with strength or exertion.
    • , Folio Society, 2006, vol.1, p.148:
      Let him hardly be possest with an honest curiositie to search out the nature and causes of all things [].
  2. (manner, archaic) Harshly, severely; in a hard manner.
  3. (now rare) With difficulty.
    • , Folio Society, 2006, vol.1, p.234:
      And what gentle flame soever doth warme the heart of young virgins, yet are they hardly drawne to leave and forgoe their mothers, to betake them to their husbands [].
    • 1977, John Le Carré, The Honourable Schoolboy, Folio Society 2010, page 40:
      While in Chelsea, Anne Smiley pined, taking very hardly to her unaccustomed role of wife abandoned.
  4. (degree) Barely, only just, almost not.

Usage notes

  • In the modern sense “barely”, it is grammatically a negative word. It therefore collocates with ever rather than never.
    • Compare example sentence with I almost never watch television
    • Because of the anomalous sense of this word, expressions such as “hardly working” have an opposite meaning to what the etymology (“hard” + “-ly”) would suggest. “Working hard” suggests that considerable work is being done, whereas “hardly working” suggests that very little work is being done.

Synonyms

  • (barely, almost not or not quite): barely, just, only just, scarcely

Translations

Interjection

hardly

  1. Not really.
    I think the Beatles are a really overrated band. ― Hardly!


English

Etymology

From Middle English scarcely, scarsly, scarsely, scarsliche, scarseliche, equivalent to scarce +‎ -ly.

Pronunciation

  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈskɛəsli/
  • (General American) IPA(key): /ˈskɛɹsli/
  • Hyphenation: scarce‧ly

Adverb

scarcely (comparative more scarcely, superlative most scarcely)

  1. (modal) Probably not.
    One could scarcely find any trout in the stream without the stocking program.
  2. (modal) Certainly not.
    One could scarcely expect the man to know how to fly a helicopter.
    • 1914, Saki, Dusk in Beasts and Super-Beasts,
      His clothes could scarcely be called shabby, at least they passed muster in the half-light, but one’s imagination could not have pictured the wearer embarking on the purchase of a half-crown box of chocolates or laying out ninepence on a carnation buttonhole.
  3. (degree) Almost not at all; by a small margin.
    • He had scarcely finished, when the labourer arrived who had been sent for my ransom.
    • 1875 December 7, Ulysses S. Grant, Ulysses S. Grant’s Seventh State of the Union Address,
      In 1776 manufactories scarcely existed even in name in all this vast territory.
    • 1922, Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
      That night, and for many nights after, the Velveteen Rabbit slept in the Boy’s bed. At first he found it rather uncomfortable, for the Boy hugged him very tight, and sometimes he rolled over on him, and sometimes he pushed him so far under the pillow that the Rabbit could scarcely breathe.
    • 1963, Pierre Boulle, Planet of the Apes:
      But we shall take scarcely more than two years to reach it, while we should have needed almost as much time to arrive in the region of Proxima Centauris.
    • 1993, Baltasar Gracián, Joseph Jacobs (translator), The Art of Worldly Wisdom,
      Nature scarcely ever gives us the very best—for that we must have recourse to art.

Usage notes

It is grammatically a negative word. It therefore collocates with ever rather than never.

  • Compare We scarcely ever eat fish. with We almost never eat fish.

Synonyms

  • (degree: by a small margin): barely, hardly
  • (barely, almost not or not quite): barely, just, hardly, only just

Translations


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