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Hardship vs. Adversity: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on November 7, 2023
Hardship refers to severe suffering or deprivation, while Adversity denotes unfavorable circumstances or challenges one faces.

Key Differences

Hardship is a term that signifies severe suffering, deprivation, or difficulties that an individual undergoes. Adversity, on the other hand, signifies unfavorable or challenging circumstances or events that one encounters.
Hardship often pertains to tangible or concrete deprivations, such as financial struggles or health issues. Adversity, however, can encompass a broader range of challenges, including emotional, physical, or external situations that create obstacles.
While both Hardship and Adversity imply difficulties, the term Hardship has a more specific connotation, often pointing to a pressing burden or distress. Adversity tends to be more general, suggesting resistance or challenges that can be either internal or external.
Hardship can sometimes be a result of Adversity. For instance, someone might face the adversity of a natural disaster, leading to the hardship of losing their home.
Both Hardship and Adversity are part of the human experience and can be momentary or prolonged. Yet, while Hardship emphasizes the intensity of suffering, Adversity focuses on the nature and complexity of the challenges.

Comparison Chart

Primary Definition

Severe suffering or deprivation
Unfavorable or challenging circumstances


More specific and tangible
Broader, encompassing various challenges


Can be momentary or prolonged
Can be transient or long-lasting

Possible Causes

Financial issues, health problems
External events, personal challenges

Emotional Connotation

Intense distress or burden
Resilience against unfavorable situations

Hardship and Adversity Definitions


A condition of suffering, deprivation, or difficulty.
The economic crisis caused significant hardship for many families.


Difficulties or unfavorable circumstances.
She rose to success despite facing many adversities.


An experience that causes severe physical or emotional strain.
War veterans often endure immense hardship.


An event or period where things don't go as planned.
She learned the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity.


An obstacle or burden causing significant challenge.
Climbing the mountain was a test of endurance and hardship.


A state of hardship or affliction.
The community came together during times of adversity.


A trying period marked by lack of resources or well-being.
The drought brought years of hardship to the farming community.


A situation that opposes or challenges.
The team faced adversity in the final minutes of the game.


A situation causing discomfort or distress.
The long journey was filled with unforeseen hardship.


A condition marked by misfortune or distress.
His strength during adversity inspired many.


The condition of lacking necessities or comforts; privation or suffering.


A state of hardship or affliction; misfortune.


A thing or circumstance that causes ongoing or persistent suffering or difficulty
"Hives are a great hardship, but they will not injure your vital organs" (Andrew Weil).


A calamitous event.


Difficulty or trouble; hard times.
He has survived periods of financial hardship before.


(uncountable) The state of adverse conditions; state of misfortune or calamity.


A burden, a source of difficulty that could impose a barrier.
When you visit the museum, we invite you to make a donation of $10 if this will not be a hardship.


(countable) An event that is adverse; calamity.


(transitive) To treat (a person) badly; to subject to hardships.


Opposition; contrariety.
Adversity is not without comforts and hopes.


That which is hard to bear, as toil, privation, injury, injustice, etc.


A state of misfortune or affliction;
Debt-ridden farmers struggling with adversity
A life of hardship


A state of misfortune or affliction;
Debt-ridden farmers struggling with adversity
A life of hardship


A stroke of ill fortune; a calamitous event;
A period marked by adversities


Something hard to endure;
The asperity of northern winters


Something that causes or entails suffering;
I cannot think it a hardship that more indulgence is allowed to men than to women
The many hardships of frontier life


Can financial difficulties be considered a Hardship?

Yes, financial difficulties are a common form of hardship.

Can personal growth emerge from Hardship?

Yes, many people find personal growth and resilience after overcoming hardship.

What does Hardship mainly refer to?

Hardship mainly refers to severe suffering, deprivation, or difficulties an individual undergoes.

Can mental health challenges be considered Adversity?

Yes, mental health challenges are a form of adversity faced by many.

Does Adversity always lead to Hardship?

Not always, but adversity can sometimes result in or exacerbate hardship.

Does Hardship always have negative outcomes?

While hardship is challenging, some people find strength, resilience, or new perspectives as a result.

Can Adversity be self-imposed?

Yes, individuals can sometimes create adversity for themselves through choices or actions.

Are all forms of Hardship visible?

No, some forms of hardship, like emotional distress, might not be immediately visible.

Can Hardship be momentary?

Yes, hardship can be both momentary and prolonged.

How is Adversity typically defined?

Adversity typically denotes unfavorable or challenging circumstances or events one encounters.

How does society typically view Adversity?

Society often views adversity as challenges to overcome and can celebrate those who triumph over them.

Can Hardship be avoided?

While some hardships might be unavoidable, proactive measures can mitigate or prevent certain hardships.

Can one thrive in Adversity?

Many individuals find strength in adversity and use it as a catalyst for growth and success.

How can one cope with Hardship?

Seeking support, focusing on solutions, and maintaining resilience are ways to cope with hardship.

Is facing competition an example of Adversity?

Yes, competition can be seen as a form of adversity as it presents challenges to overcome.

Is facing discrimination a form of Adversity?

Yes, discrimination is a significant form of adversity faced by many.

How do communities typically respond to Hardship?

Communities often come together, offering support and resources during times of hardship.

Is Adversity always external?

No, adversity can be both external (from the environment) and internal (from personal challenges).

How does Adversity impact character development?

Adversity can build resilience, teach patience, and shape one's character in profound ways.

Is illness a form of Hardship?

Yes, illness can lead to both physical and emotional hardship.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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