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[hahrd-tak] /ˈhɑrdˌtæk/
a hard, saltless biscuit, formerly much used aboard ships and for army rations.
Also called pilot biscuit, pilot bread, ship biscuit, ship bread.
Origin of hardtack
1830-40; hard + tack2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for hardtack
Historical Examples
  • hardtack, pork and coffee tasted better than he had ever known them.

  • I had some hardtack and tea in my “grub bag,” and these I left with her.

    The Long Labrador Trail Dillon Wallace
  • We had ten hard miles to go, and no supper, for the hardtack had disappeared ere we were half-way up the mountain.

    Alaska Days with John Muir Samuel Hall Young
  • Jerked beef and hardtack, washed down with coffee, was their fare.

    Oh, You Tex! William Macleod Raine
  • Nary a bit of hardtack, but the wagons will be along presently, and you can get all you want.

    An Autobiography of Buffalo Bill (Colonel W. F. Cody) Buffalo Bill (William Frederick Cody)
  • hardtack was served with this soup and made a most satisfactory meal.

  • The hardtack and provisions carried on march leave something to be desired.

    Old Fort Garland James T. Forrest
  • We shall feed our men on herring and hardtack with the coffee.

  • It is not shoulder-straps (the officers' insignia), but hardtack that we want!

    The Lincoln Story Book Henry L. Williams
  • Kirby swallowed what must have been the last soggy crumb of hardtack.

    Ride Proud, Rebel! Andre Alice Norton
British Dictionary definitions for hardtack


a kind of hard saltless biscuit, formerly eaten esp by sailors as a staple aboard ship Also called pilot biscuit, ship's biscuit, sea biscuit
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hardtack

1836, "ship's biscuit," from hard (adj.) + tack (n.3); soft-tack was soft wheaten bread.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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