school of hard knocks

school of hard knocks

noun
the experience gained from living, especially from disappointment and hard work, regarded as a means of education: The only school he ever attended was the school of hard knocks.

Origin:
1910–15, Americanism

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

school of hard knocks

The practical experience of life, including hardship and disappointments. For example, A self-made man, he never went to college but came up through the school of hard knocks. This idiom uses knock, "a blow," as a metaphor for a setback. [Mid-1800s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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