This word has a few different meanings. Let's focus on the more common, useful one:
Something hardscrabble requires a difficult, constant, desperate struggle (and that struggle usually results, at best, in just surviving and not thriving.)
HARD scrab ull
Part of speech:
(Adjectives are describing words, like “large” or “late.”
They can be used in two ways:
1. Right before a noun, as in “a hardscrabble childhood.”
2. After a linking verb, as in "Their childhood was hardscrabble.”
I believe you'll see "hardscrabble" used only in that first way.)
Though it seems rarely used this way, "hardscrabble" can also be a noun, meaning either intense effort or barren land.
How to use it:
Talk about hardscrabble places and land: a hardscrabble town, a hardscrabble farm, the hardscrabble desert, or a hardscrabble row of old homes.
Or, hardscrabble times: a hardscrabble life, their hardscrabble roots, her hardscrabble upbringing, the organization's hardscrabble beginning, his hardscrabble adolescence, our family's hardscrabble year.
Or, hardscrabble things: their hardscrabble history, a hardscrabble tale, her hardscrabble effort, a hardscrabble struggle or battle, the soldiers' hardscrabble glory, a hardscrabble Christmas.
Even hardscrabble people: hardscrabble refugees, a hardscrabble competitor, these hardscrabble street kids, etc.
Compared, especially, to our grandparents' hardscrabble lives through the Depression and World War II... we have it really, really easy.
He recited a hardscrabble story and asked for money for a bus ticket.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "hardscrabble" means when you can explain it without saying "barely staying alive" or "constant struggle."
Think of a rough time in your life or in the life of someone you know, and fill in the blanks: "(Person) survived the hardscrabble days by _____."
Example: "Our family survived the hardscrabble days of grief by taking them one at a time."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
This month, we're sampling questions from Orijinz, an awesome series of games about the origins of words, phrases, and quotes. Click here if you want to check them out. They're compact--perfect for stockings. Just saying. :) Try a question here each day this month, and see the right answer the next day. Have fun!
"Guess the fictional character [who spoke the following quotes]!
'France is a problem; I have to avoid the restaurants there.' 'Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection—the lovers, the dreamers, and me.' 'Don’t count your tadpoles until they’ve hatched.' 'It’s not that easy being green.' 'I have to stand on a box; they didn’t have a toadstool.'”
"The fictional character is: Kermit the Frog."
"Guess the word!
Origin: Literally means 'infested with lice.' Developed its figurative meaning in the 20th century.
Definition: Remarkably bad or of poor quality."
A Point Well Made:
Laozi: “...Of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aims fulfilled, they will all say, ‘We did this ourselves.’”
1. The opposite of HARDSCRABBLE is
2. Stories of his hardscrabble childhood were disproved by _____.
A. archived news articles detailing his early athletic talent
B. old report cards showing that he generally earned good grades
C. pictures of him with his parents, who were sipping martinis on a yacht
Answers are below.
To be a sponsor and send your own message to readers of this list, please contact Liesl at Liesl@HiloTutor.com.
Make Your Point is crafted with love and brought to you each day for free by Mrs. Liesl Johnson, M.Ed., a word lover, learning enthusiast, and private tutor of reading and writing in the verdant little town of Hilo, Hawaii. For writing tips, online learning, essay guidance, and more, please visit www.HiloTutor.com.
Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
"Hardscrabble" is a purely American word, coined here and first used by Lewis and Clark to describe a prairie. I can't find a single other word we've looked at with a purely American history like this one! :)