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Hearty or Hardy – What’s the Difference?

We all love a good stew. After letting it simmer all day in the crockpot, it becomes a delicious and filling meal that can feed a family for days. But should we call it a...

We all love a good stew. After letting it simmer all day in the crockpot, it becomes a delicious and filling meal that can feed a family for days.

But should we call it a hearty meal or a hardy meal? Separately, should you plant hardy plants in your garden or hearty ones?

These two words are easy to mix up, especially since their meanings can seem very similar if not used carefully. Read on to discover the best contexts for these confusing adjectives.

What is the Difference Between Hearty and Hardy?

In this article, I will compare hearty vs hardy. I will give a few example sentences for each word, and I will also discuss a useful memory tool that will help you decide which of these words to choose.

Is it hardy or hearty? Let’s find out.

When to Use Hearty

What does hearty mean? Hearty is an adjective that has many different senses.

It can mean (1) warm and enthusiastic, (2) strong and healthy, (3) of food, nourishing, satisfying, (4) of an eater, needing or demanding plenty of food.

Here are a few examples:

  • “Make me a hearty stew!” cried Marilyn, after she returned from her hunting trip.
  • The parishioner offered a hearty greeting to everyone who walked through the doors of the church.
  • “Huzzah!” was the pirates’ hearty cry after they had captured another naval ship.
  • This warming, savory, hearty baked rice casserole was originally meant to be an Indian-style biriyani, but my larder was stocked with Gallic ingredients: mushrooms, thyme, garlic, parsley. I switched gears, heading in a French direction. -The New York Times

Expressions Using Hearty

In most cases, the word you are searching for is hearty. This is the correct choice for the following expressions:

  • A hearty appetite.
  • A hearty meal.
  • A hearty handshake.
  • A hearty laugh.
  • A hearty applause.
  • Party hearty.

When to Use Hardy

What does hardy mean? Hardy is another adjective and is defined as strong, robust, and capable of enduring difficult conditions. It has some overlap with the second sense of hearty (see above).

For example:

  • I will plant some hardy geraniums in my flower garden because they can survive my poor gardening skills.
  • The rookie boxer fights with passion, but his veteran opponent is hardy and has taken many blows in his long career.
  • The Irish come from hardy stock, and they will not go down without a fight.
  • It is also a hardy virus. Dr. Moe said studies she has done have detected the virus on surfaces three to four weeks after it was put there though it is unclear if it could cause an infection that much later. -The Wall Street Journal

Expressions Using Hardy

There are fewer common expressions that use hardy compared with those that use hearty.

Here are a few phrases that call for hardy:

  • Hale and hardy.
  • Hardy stock.

Most other instances call for the word hearty.

Trick to Remember the Difference

You are not the first writer to be unsure whether hardy or hearty is the correct word. Luckily, there is an easy way to remember the difference.

Hardy contains the adjective hard, which can also mean strong or robust in many contexts. The similarity between these words should help you remember when to choose the word hardy.

Hearty is more complicated. It has many meanings, one of which overlaps with hardy and is the source of most of the confusion. In most cases, for sturdy or strong, hardy is a better choice, while hearty is more appropriate to describe a hot stew or a welcoming greeting.

To remember hearty, think of things that benefit the heart: a welcoming greeting, a nourishing stew, pleasant laughter, or applause.


Is it hearty or hardy? Hearty and hardy are both adjectives.

  • Hardy means robust or sturdy, like a plant that is hard to kill or a champion martial artist.
  • Hearty has many meanings, including wholesome and filling when used with regard to food, and enthusiastic and welcoming when used regarding laughter or a greeting.

Hearty also has a meaning that overlaps with hardy, but in these circumstances, hardy is usually the better choice. Since hardy contains the word hard, which is its rough synonym in many contexts, you shouldn’t have much difficulty choosing that word.

Remember, you can always reread this post for a quick refresher if you get confused.

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