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hardball

[hahrd-bawl] /ˈhɑrdˌbɔl/
noun
1.
baseball, as distinguished from softball.
adjective
2.
tough or ruthless:
He wasn't ready for the hardball politics of Washington.
3.
outspoken, challenging, or difficult:
Reporters asked the president some hardball questions.
Idioms
4.
play hardball, to act or work aggressively, competitively, or ruthlessly, as in business or politics.
Origin
1825-1835
1825-35; hard + ball1
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for play hardball

hardball

/ˈhɑːdbɔːl/
noun
1.
(US & Canadian) baseball as distinct from softball
2.
(informal, mainly US & Canadian) play hardball, to act in a ruthless or uncompromising way
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for play hardball

hardball

n.

1883 as the name of a game, from hard + ball (n.1). The figurative sense of "tough, uncompromising behavior" is from 1973.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for play hardball

play hardball

verb phrase

To be intent and serious to the point of callousness; play for keeps: You want to play hardball, here we go

[1973+; fr the presumed distinction in difficulty, severity, and manliness between baseball, that is, hardball, and softball]


hardball

modifier

: fields hardball questions in a practice TV interview/ despite his hardball attitude toward sponsors of offensive TV shows

noun

Serious and consequential activity, work, etc; perilous and responsible doings: It's hardball now, it's not games anymore/ It's going to be hard ball. We're talking about physicians losing income

verb

play hardball (1973+)


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 play hardball

play hardball

Act aggressively and ruthlessly, as in It's only a month before the election, and I'm sure they'll start to play hardball. This term originated in baseball, where it alludes to using the standard ball as opposed to the slightly larger and minimally softer ball of softball. It was transferred to describe aggressive behavior only in the 1970s.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Difficulty index for hardball

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Word Value for play

9
10
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