1. a condition that is difficult to endure; suffering; deprivation; oppression: a life of hardship.
  2. an instance or cause of this; something hard to bear, as a deprivation, lack of comfort, or constant toil or danger: They faced bravely the many hardships of frontier life.


  1. conditions of life difficult to endure
  2. something that causes suffering or privation

c.1200, “quality of being hard,” from hard + -ship. Meaning “disadvantage, suffering, privation” is c.1400.

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