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hard time

a period of difficulties or hardship.
Slang. time actually served in a prison or other penal institution:
He had merely been fined before, but now was sentenced to 90 days' hard time in the county jail.
give a hard time, Informal. to bother, annoy, or harass:
He gave me a hard time about the money I owe him.
Origin of hard time
1905-10 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for hard times
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Hitherto Cecile had come between him and all hard times; hitherto, whatever hardships there were to bear, Cecile had borne them.

  • She had known the pinch of hard times in her day, had Mrs. Matson.

  • Winter is the companion of hard times, and takes the same way whether it freezes or thaws—and on this occasion it froze!

    Pelle the Conqueror, Complete Martin Anderson Nexo
  • And now, when hard times come along, and they are cutting wages, what do they do?

    The Octopus Frank Norris
  • He wuz a dretful good man to her, but he wuz kinder poor and they had hard times to git along.

Slang definitions & phrases for hard times

hard times

noun phrase

A period of economic depression, poverty, etc (1705+)

hard time

noun phrase

Time actually spent in prison by a sentenced criminal: Hard men are serving hard time 10 miles down the road (1930s+ Underworld)

Related Terms

give someone a hard time

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with hard times

hard time

Also, hard times. A period of difficulty or hardship, especially financial hardship. For example, Since Mom died, Christmas has been a hard time for Dad, or It's been hard times for both of them since they split up. It is also put as have a hard time, as in I'm having a hard time finishing this book. Charles Dickens used Hard Times as the title of a novel about poverty (1854). A more recent version is have a time of it, which despite its ambiguity (not specifying either “good” or “bad”) nearly always means “experiencing difficulty”; for example, We had quite a time of it in that hurricane. [ Late 1300s ]
give someone a hard time. Annoy or harass someone. For example, Don't let him give you a hard time; he's often late himself. [ ; early 1900s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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