hard time

See synonyms for: hard%20timehard%20times on Thesaurus.com

  1. a period of difficulties or hardship.

  2. 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.

  1. 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

First recorded in 1905–10

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use hard time in a sentence

  • We have had hard times, and hard marching through this rough country, but thanks be to God, I have escaped with a whole skin.

    The World Before Them | Susanna Moodie
  • The hard times of 1893-94 gave a new opportunity to test the value of such a club.

    The Leaven in a Great City | Lillian William Betts
  • Yet the complaint of "hard times" is louder and louder: everywhere are men harassed by care, and haunted by the fear of want.

  • Th' top iv good times is hard times and th' bottom iv hard times is good times.

    Mr. Dooley Says | Finley Dunne
  • The President is made responsible for everything, especially for hard times.

    Ethics in Service | William Howard Taft

Other Idioms and Phrases with hard time

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]

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