hardly


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(one) can hardly believe his or her eyes

One is unable to believe or accept what is happening right in front of one. She could hardly believe her eyes when all of her extended relatives surprised her by coming to our wedding. This place is so dirty, I can hardly believe my eyes!
See also: believe, can, eye, hardly

can hardly hear (oneself) think

Unable to concentrate or think clearly because there is too much noise or commotion around oneself. Kids, go outside to play! I can hardly hear myself think with you shouting like that! With the noise of the construction outside her window, she could hardly hear herself think.
See also: can, hardly, hear, think

hardly dry behind the ears

Not yet fully mature; not well experienced in some situation or for some role. You boys can't enlist for the army, you're hardly dry behind the ears!
See also: behind, dry, ear, hardly

exchange no more than

some number of words with someone and not exchange more than some number of words with someone; hardly exchange more than some number of words with someone; scarcely exchange more than some number of words with someone to say hardly anything to someone. (Always negative.) I know Tom was there, but I am sure that I didn't exchange more than three words with him before he left. We hardly exchanged more than two words the whole evening. Sally and Liz didn't have enough time to exchange more than five words.
See also: exchange, more

hardly have time to breathe

 and scarcely have time to breathe
Fig. to be very busy. This was such a busy day. I hardly had time to breathe. They made him work so hard that he scarcely had time to breathe.
See also: breathe, hardly, have, time

hardly have time to think

so busy that one can hardly think properly; very busy. I've been so busy that I hardly have time to think. I hardly have time to think in the job that I do. We are just too busy.
See also: hardly, have, think, time

wet behind the ears

 and not dry behind the ears; hardly dry behind the ears
Fig. young and inexperienced. John's too young to take on a job like this! He's still wet behind the ears! He may be wet behind the ears, but he's well-trained and totally competent. Tom is going into business by himself? Why, he's hardly dry behind the ears.
See also: behind, ear, wet

wet behind the ears

young and not experienced The job put a lot of responsibility on someone who was still wet behind the ears, but he learned fast.
See also: behind, ear, wet

[hardly/scarcely etc.] earth-shattering

not very surprising or shocking We were all expecting the announcement. It wasn't exactly earth-shattering news.
See also: hardly

can't hear yourself think

  also can barely/hardly hear yourself think
if you can't hear yourself think, there is so much noise around you that it is impossible to hear anything The music was so loud I could hardly hear myself think.
See also: hear, think

hardly ever

Also, rarely ever, scarcely ever. Very seldom, almost never, as in This kind of thief is hardly ever caught, or He rarely ever brings up his wartime experiences. The ever in these expressions, first recorded in 1694, serves as an intensifier.
See also: ever, hardly

wet behind the ears

Also, not dry behind the ears. Immature, inexperienced, as in How can you take instructions from Tom? He's still wet behind the ears, or Jane's not dry behind the ears yet. This term alludes to the fact that the last place to dry in a newborn colt or calf is the indentation behind its ears. [Early 1900s]
See also: behind, ear, wet

wet behind the ears

Inexperienced; green.
See also: behind, ear, wet
References in classic literature ?
They'll miss me in the gardens hereabouts, and round by the back doors; and Pyncheon Street, I'm afraid, will hardly look the same without old Uncle Venner, who remembers it with a mowing field on one side, and the garden of the Seven Gables on the other.
Godfrey left the room, hardly knowing whether he were more relieved by the sense that the interview was ended without having made any change in his position, or more uneasy that he had entangled himself still further in prevarication and deceit.
With quicker and lighter step he crossed the bridge of clouds, and hardly had he reached the other side than his friend stood before him and greeted him cheerfully.
The belief was communicated to the English settlers, and is hardly yet extinct, that a gem, of such immense size as to be seen shining miles away, hangs from a rock over a clear, deep lake, high up among the hills.
Twice he was walking, and once he ran swiftly, so that the soles are deeply marked and the heels hardly visible.
He actually sat crying in an arm-chair, and I could hardly get him to speak coherently.
They were just beginning to descend; and it was evident that the horse, whether of her own will or of his (the latter being the more likely), knew so well the reckless performance expected of her that she hardly required a hint from behind.
In the environs there was almost nothing, hardly even a few grasses, with some dwarf mimosas and stunted bushes.
The other, dark, clear-cut, and elegant, hardly yet of middle age, and endowed with every beauty of body and of mind, was the Right Honourable Trelawney Hope, Secretary for European Affairs, and the most rising statesman in the country.
Think of Kit Downes, uncle, who lives with his wife and seven children in a house with one sitting room and one bedroom hardly larger than this table
Then, if the boy has read a good many other books, he is taken with that abundance of literary turn and allusion in Thackeray; there is hardly a sentence but reminds him that he is in the society of a great literary swell, who has read everything, and can mock or burlesque life right and left from the literature always at his command.
Observant persons, accustomed to frequent the London parks, can hardly have failed to notice the number of solitary strangers sadly endeavoring to vary their lives by taking a walk.
That is hardly my customary fee; I'll take home this first instalment, then return and bring an action for salvage against the skin.
A peculiarity of the apparition, hardly noted at the time, but afterward recalled, was that it showed only the upper half of the woman's figure: nothing was seen below the waist.
If you had seen little Jo standing at the street corner in the rain, you would hardly have admired him.