February 20, 2005

"Party hardy" or "party hearty"?

The NYT has a "Sunday Styles" article about sororities at Harvard. Somehow, at the NYT, the fact that something happens at Harvard is the essence of newsworthiness.
[S]ororities of the traditional state-college variety have taken root at Harvard, a place where for years the biggest social event for women was the annual Take Back the Night rally. Kappa Alpha Theta, the sorority of Laura Bush and Lynne Cheney, was the first to arrive on campus, in 1992. Delta Gamma followed in 1994, and Kappa Kappa Gamma opened its chapter in 2003. But while Harvard sororities share the same Greek letters as their party-hardy sister chapters at Michigan, Texas and Ole Miss, their social agendas are startlingly wholesome, perhaps giving new meaning to the phrase Harvard Square. They hold kickball tournaments and pajama parties and take apple-picking trips. Their recruitment meetings take place not at bars but at the local Finagle a Bagel and Au Bon Pain. And far from being catty and exclusive, they strive to welcome any woman who might hope to join.

"Party hardy"? Shouldn't it be "party hearty"? Google shows a slight edge for "party hearty" (31,800 hits) over "party hardy" (27,700), but let's check out the commentary:
Hardy/Hearty. These two words overlap somewhat, but usually the word you want is "hearty.” The standard expressions are “a hearty appetite,” “a hearty meal,” a “hearty handshake,” “a hearty welcome,” and “hearty applause." "Hardy” turns up in “hale and hardy,” but should not be substituted for "hearty” in the other expressions. “Party hearty” and “party hardy” are both common renderings of a common youth saying, but the first makes more sense.
I'll bet a lot of people haven't really noticed that these are two different words:
These two sound much alike and can easily be mistaken for each other in the spoken language. Hardy means “strong, daring, able to withstand stress” and, of plants, “able to live through the winter.” She’s a hardy person, at eighty-two still caring for her own house and garden. Hearty means “cordial, enthusiastic, unrestrained, vigorous,” as in She gave us a hearty welcome followed by an equally hearty dinner.

Well, what are you really trying to say to someone when you say "party hardy/hearty"? If you're trying to wish the person well in holding up to all that drinking, it's "hardy." If you want them to have a lot of rollicking fun, it's "hearty." If you're trying to say both, stick to the spoken word. If you're the NYT, and you mean to insult the catty, exclusionary state school girls, "hardy" actually is the better choice.

20 comments:

JessMauer said...

After puzzling over the same conundrum of the words, a google search for the answer produced your blog. and I must say, well done. I now have the answer!

Rgcool said...

The only reason people ever say the phrase "Party Hardy" instead of "Party Hearty" is because it rhymes a lot better. To bad people always seem to over analyze everything now a days, might as well band slang while were at it eh? ;)

Patrick said...

Yes, I too came here searching for the answer to this question.

Thank you.

jen said...

i had the same problem. i couldn't figure out which spelling was the correct word. while i fancy myself rather intelligent, i must admit i felt a little ingnorant when i found myself typing this into the google search. both seem rather logical, yet hearty was what i would have gone with in either case. thank you for clearing this up for me.

617zreales said...

the definition for hearty is better for trying to say party having fun, but party hardy in the sens of bold is actually best. and the google searches show that party hardy has over 30,000 more hits than party hearty..so regardless of one's opinion of the best word, the phrase is traditionally party hardy

Julien Bertrand said...

A well-developed, convincing case, very sensible and informative. In any case however, the validity of Google results insofar as they give us a "realistic" view of how language is written and/or spoken is yet to be recognised.

alexhoskins said...

Which phrase rhymes better depends a lot on which side of the Atlantic you come from.

JaqiSays said...

Good arguments - but as someone who's been around for a few years - I remember the phrase originally began as "party hard" as in "we're going to party hard this weekend"....and morphed into a sing-song proclamation along the lines of "what ya' gonna do this weekend?" as the call - with "party-hardy" as the reply. The "y" at the end was added just to make it rhyme. If you imagine a bunch of dumb high-schoolers trying to act cool it'll make sense in your head. The phrase has been around a loooong time.

JaqiSays said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenna said...

Thanks for this post! I think party-hardy looks better, but I will be using party-hearty from now on.

Stephanie said...

Much like the previous commenters, I found myself in the same dilemma.

What a succinct explanation! Wonderful job, and thank you!

moracca said...

@rgcool: how does hardy rhyme better with party than hearty??

John said...

Party Hardy means “party strong, be daring, be able to withstand the stress of partying”
Party hardy into the future little grasshoppers, party on!

Party Hearty means “party cordially, party enthusiastically, party unrestrained,and party vigorously,”
Party hearty in the now little grasshoppers, free beer!

Heinz 57 said...

I agree that "party hearty" is the correct form. But in defense of the Sunday Styles section (words I never thought I'd be typing), I would argue that the author here was making a play on words, using "party-hardy" as an adjective to describe people with a lot of partying stamina.

icowrich said...

Actually it should be "party heartily" (or "hardily," if you go for that choice).

icowrich said...

Actually it should be "party heartily" (or "hardily," if you go for that choice).

GeoffUK said...

Time marches on since 2005.
As of spring 2012, "party hearty" returns just 452,000 results, while "party hardy" has surged to 676,000 results.
"Party Hardy" is the name of a heavy metal song by Teeze, a TV episode of Hidden Palms, and "Party Hardy Marty" is a line from Bill Murray's movie Scrouged and has inspired a number of bands to adopt the name or a song lyric.
The "hearty" folks have tin ears.
I vote for "hardy", meant exactly in the spirit of "hale and hardy".

GeoffUK said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CK Dexter Haven said...

I'm surprised by the comments that "hardy" doesn't make sense or is grammatically incorrect. Or, that "hearty" is the logical choice, because of the dictionary definition.

Unless someone finds a bona fide, historically valid 'first usage' of the word, i think it's more likely that HARDY is simply a rhyming derivation of HARD. I would be skeptical of claims that the drunk guy inquiring about the night's activities would be harkening back to an 'olde english' thing.

We gonna party hard-y. / Who likes to rock the party ? I like to rock the party.

And, yah - wouldn't "heartily" be more appropriate for the anal retentive partygoer?

Jennifer said...

In fact, the correct expression is "hale and hearty" not "hale and hardy". The confusion no doubt arises from the fact that Americans and Canadians in general slur "t" into "d" in speaking, and thus over time "hearty" slides into "hardy".