hard nut to crack


Also, tough nut to crack. A difficult problem; also, an individual who is difficult to deal with. For example, This assignment is a hard nut to crack, or It won't be easy getting her approval; she's a tough nut to crack. This metaphoric expression alludes to hard-shelled nuts like walnuts. [Early 1700s]

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.