- only just; almost not; 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.
- British. harshly or severely.
- scarcely; barelywe hardly knew the family
- just; only justhe could hardly hold the cup
- often ironic almost or probably not or not at allhe will hardly incriminate himself
- with difficulty or effort
- rare harshly or cruelly
c.1200, “in a hard manner, with great exertion or effort,” from Old English heardlic “stern, severe, harsh; bold, warlike” (see hard + -ly (2)). Hence “assuredly, certainly” (early 14c.). Main modern sense of “barely, just” (1540s) reverses this, via the intermediate meaning “not easily, with trouble” (early 15c.). Formerly with superficial negative (not hardly).