hard scrabble


providing or yielding meagerly in return for much effort; demanding or unrewarding: the hardscrabble existence of mountainside farmers.

1795–1805, Americanism; hard + scrabble

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World English Dictionary
hardscrabble (ˈhɑːdˌskræbəl)
1.  (modifier) (of a place) difficult to make a living in; barren
2.  great effort made in the face of difficulties

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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