hardly


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(one) can hardly believe (one's) 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

wet behind the ears

Inexperienced, often because one is young. You'll never win the case with him as your lawyer—he's just out of law school and still wet behind the ears! This group of interns seems especially wet behind the ears—I barely trust them to get my coffee!
See also: behind, ear, wet

hardly ever

Nearly never; very infrequently; only on a few or rare occasions. We used to go visit Grandma and Grandpa every year when I was a kid, but nowadays I hardly ever see them. I hardly ever get the chance to go out to the movies alone since having kids.
See also: ever, hardly

hardly earth-shattering

Not surprising. Greg has been staying late at the office regularly for months, so it's hardly earth-shattering news that he was chosen for the big promotion.
See also: hardly

it's hardly saying much

It is rather unremarkable, unimportant, or unimpressive (that something is the case) relative to someone or something else or some broader picture. True, the economy has improved under this president, but it's hardly saying much if you consider how his predecessor left things. A: "So you are a better cook than your wife, who hates cooking?" B: "Yeah, I know, it's hardly saying much."
See also: hardly, much, saying

that's hardly saying much

That is rather unremarkable, unimportant, or unimpressive relative to someone or something else or some broader picture. Well, the president has managed to get the economy to a better position than where his predecessor left, but then that's hardly saying much. I'm a bit of a better cook than my wife, but that's hardly saying much.
See also: hardly, much, saying

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, no

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

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

If someone is wet behind the ears, they are young and do not have much knowledge or experience of a situation. Hawking was a research student, still wet behind the ears by scientific standards. Terry, it turned out, was just out of university and wet behind the ears. Note: You can also use wet-behind-the-ears before a noun. The song is all about how he felt as a small-town, wet-behind-the-ears kid coming to LA for the first time. Note: There are two possible origins for this expression. It may refer to a young animal being washed by its mother. Alternatively, it may refer to children forgetting to dry behind their ears after washing.
See also: behind, ear, wet

wet behind the ears

lacking experience; immature. informal
The image is of a baby or young animal which is still damp after it has been born.
See also: behind, ear, wet

(still) ˌwet behind the ˈears

(informal, disapproving) be young and with very little experience: He’s a young teacher, still wet behind the ears. OPPOSITE: an old hand (at something/at doing something)
See also: behind, ear, wet

wet behind the ears

Inexperienced; green.
See also: behind, ear, wet
References in classic literature ?
She uttered a piercing shriek so that the mountains re-echoed with the sound of it, and the terrified pair had hardly dared to look out from their hiding-place when the enraged woman, with her dress and hair flying in the wind, hurried over the bridge of clouds.
But once more her scheme was doomed to failure, for hardly had she gone a yard from the church than both it and the monk disappeared, and she found herself in a wood black as night, and full of wolves and bears and wild animals of all sorts and descriptions.
With these words she disappeared, and hardly had she done so than a huge wild boar started out of the thicket near and made straight for the Prince.
When you search a single column for words with which to express your meaning, you can hardly expect to get everything you want.
Not exactly, Joe; but don't be alarmed: I hardly expect to go so far as that.
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.
I think this must be admitted, when we find that there are hardly any domestic races, either amongst animals or plants, which have not been ranked by some competent judges as mere varieties, and by other competent judges as the descendants of aboriginally distinct species.
When we bear in mind that Britain has now hardly one peculiar mammal, and France but few distinct from those of Germany and conversely, and so with Hungary, Spain, &c.
He soon arrived at the house of his brother, who hardly knew him.
With a voice so weak that it hardly could be heard, she whispered:
As he was about to die, he thought of his poor old father, and hardly conscious of what he was saying, murmured to himself:
He had left them completely frightened; and Harriet eagerly clinging to him, and hardly able to speak, had just strength enough to reach Hartfield, before her spirits were quite overcome.
Such an adventure as this,a fine young man and a lovely young woman thrown together in such a way, could hardly fail of suggesting certain ideas to the coldest heart and the steadiest brain.
She had an unhappy state of health in general for the child of such a man, for she hardly knew what indisposition was; and if he did not invent illnesses for her, she could make no figure in a message.
THE Labour Party has been scaremongering about Ukip since before the last European Election, so Ed Balls' latest is hardly news.