- adjective thoroughly criminal, deviant or sexually debauched. This is a specific sense of the colloquial meaning of hardcore (committed or uncompromising, as applied, e.g., to political beliefs or pornography). In the 1970s in the USA the word took on a narrower connotation in the jargon of the street and underworld, coming to mean irredeemably criminal. It was often used in this sense to indicate admiration or awe.
- adjective excessive, outrageous, relentless. This vogue term in adolescent speech in the later 1990s was often used to indicate appreciation or admiration. It is based on the earlier uses of the word to characterise pornography and rock music and, according to its users (one of whom defined the usage as referring to ‘somebody who stays up all night, is violent, or drinks everyone under the table or takes loads of drugs’), its antonym is lightweight.
- noun a style of fast, loud, aggressive music, a development of punk. The term originated in America in the early 1980s, perhaps influenced by the adjectival use of hardcore to mean (uncompromisingly) rebellious, anarchic or criminal, spreading to Britain around 1985. The genre has since spawned subcults such as ‘deathcore’ and ‘speedcore’.