Hardware can be just about anything that is used as a fastener, a tool, or a machine. Hardware stores sell almost everything needed for fixing a house or building something.

This is a piece of hardware that goes on the end of a screw.

It’s a nut.

I bought some nails at the hardware store.
Tools can also be purchased at a hardware store.
This tool is called a hammer.

The word "hardware" is often used to describe computers and assorted peripheral devices that work with computers:

Inside this laptop is a hard disk drive. That is the part of the machine where programs and digital information are stored.

A laptop is a form of hardware.

A disk drive is also a form of hardware.

A printer connects to a computer and prints out documents. You can think of a printer as hardware.
A keyboard is an important piece of hardware used for entering information.

The software for a computer tells the machines what to do. Without the software, the hardware doesn’t work.

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This page was first published on August 16, 2012. It was updated on July 9, 2015.