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Laughing hard

Posted by R. Berg on July 28, 2001

In Reply to: Laughing hard posted by Stephen on July 28, 2001

: I'm curious about the origin and more elaborate meaning of the adjective "hard" as used in expressions like:

: laugh hard
: sleep hard
: think hard

Well, that's an adverb you've got there. According to the Oxford Engl. Dict., "hard" as an adjective was in use before A.D. 1000 with the senses of resisting pressure (physical quality, opposite of "soft"); difficult to endure; and intense, vigorous (e.g., "hard work"). Some quotations to illustrate "hard" (adj.) come from "Beowulf," no less. The OED's first quotation for the word as an adverb is from about 1000, under the definition "with effort, energy, or violence; strenuously, earnestly, vigorously . . . In early use, sometimes = intensely, exceedingly, extremely."

A sample quotation from about 1440 (Harleian Ms.): "Grete labour that he hadde on the day afore made him to slepe hard."