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[hahrd-wair] /ˈhɑrdˌwɛər/
metalware, as tools, locks, hinges, or cutlery.
the mechanical equipment necessary for conducting an activity, usually distinguished from the theory and design that make the activity possible.
military weapons and combat equipment.
Slang. a weapon carried on one's person:
The rougher types were asked to check their hardware at the door.
Computers. the mechanical, magnetic, electronic, and electrical devices comprising a computer system, as the CPU, disk drives, keyboard, or screen.
Compare software.
Origin of hardware
1505-15; 1955-60 for def 5; hard + ware1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for hardware
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In 1850, he left the trade in dry goods and took up that in hardware.

  • But anything will do, except a grocery or a hardware store and places like that.

    The Fortune Hunter Louis Joseph Vance
  • The hardware man seemed at that moment to Mr Twitter the hardest-ware man that ever confronted him.

  • hardware was too high in price, and was no longer needed for clothing.

    Welsh Fairy Tales William Elliott Griffis
  • He seemed to have lost interest in the matter wholly and to give his time solely to his hardware store.

    Scattergood Baines Clarence Budington Kelland
British Dictionary definitions for hardware


metal tools, implements, etc, esp cutlery or cooking utensils
(computing) the physical equipment used in a computer system, such as the central processing unit, peripheral devices, and memory Compare software
mechanical equipment, components, etc
heavy military equipment, such as tanks and missiles or their parts
(informal) a gun or guns collectively
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 hardware

mid-15c., "small metal goods," from hard + ware (n.). In the sense of "physical components of a computer" it dates from 1947. Hardware store attested by 1789.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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hardware in Science
A computer, its components, and its related equipment. Hardware includes disk drives, integrated circuits, display screens, cables, modems, speakers, and printers. Compare software.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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hardware in Culture

hardware definition

The physical machinery and devices that make up a computer system. It is contrasted to software — the programs and instructions used to run the system.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for hardware



  1. Weapons and other war mate´riel: military ''hardware,'' tanks, planes, guns, rockets, weapons (1865+)
  2. Military insignia or medals worn on a uniform (WWII armed forces)
  3. Badges and other identification jewelry (1930s+)
  4. hard drug, hard liquor
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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hardware in Technology

The physical, touchable, material parts of a computer or other system. The term is used to distinguish these fixed parts of a system from the more changable software or data components which it executes, stores, or carries.
Computer hardware typically consists chiefly of electronic devices (CPU, memory, display) with some electromechanical parts (keyboard, printer, disk drives, tape drives, loudspeakers) for input, output, and storage, though completely non-electronic (mechanical, electromechanical, hydraulic, biological) computers have also been conceived of and built.
See also firmware, wetware.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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