American English

Definition of hard up adjective from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary


    hard up

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  1. 1having very little money, especially for a short period of time They're not really as hard up as they say they are. Thesauruspoordisadvantaged needy low-income impoverished deprived penniless hard upThese words all describe someone who has very little or no money and therefore cannot satisfy their basic needs.poor having very little money; not having enough money for basic needs:They were too poor to buy shoes for the kids.disadvantaged having less money and fewer opportunities than most people in society:economically disadvantaged areas of the cityneedy poor:It's a charity that provides assistance to needy children.low-income having less money to live on than most people in society:Our agency helps low-income families pay their heating bills.impoverished (journalism) poor:Thousands of impoverished families in rural areas are desperate to move to the cities.deprived [usually before noun] without enough food, education, and all the things that are necessary for people to live a happy and comfortable lifewhich word?Poor is the most general of these words and can be used to describe yourself, another individual person, people as a group, or a country or an area. Needy is mostly used to describe people considered as a group. It is not used to talk about yourself or individual people:poor/needy/low-income children/families They were too needy to buy shoes for the kids.Low-income is a polite way to describe people who are poor. Impoverished is used, especially in journalism, to talk about poor countries and the people who live there. To talk about poor areas in rich countries, use deprived.penniless (literary) having no money; very poor:He died penniless in Paris.hard up (informal) having very little money, especially for a short period of time:I was always hard up as a student.Patterns poor/disadvantaged/needy/low-income/impoverished/deprived/penniless/hard-up people/families poor/disadvantaged/needy/low-income/impoverished/deprived areas poor/disadvantaged/low-income/impoverished countries a(n) poor/disadvantaged/impoverished/deprived background
  2. 2hard up (for something) lacking in something interesting to do, talk about, etc. “You could always go out with Steve.” “I'm not that hard up!” The newspapers must be hard up for news if they have to publish stories like that (= they must have very little real news).
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: hard up

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