See more synonyms for hard-boiled on Thesaurus.com
  1. Cookery. (of an egg) boiled in the shell long enough for the yolk and white to solidify.
  2. Informal. tough; unsentimental: a hard-boiled vice-squad detective.
  3. marked by a direct, clear-headed approach; realistic: a hard-boiled appraisal of the foreign situation.
  4. (of detective fiction) written in a laconic, dispassionate, often ironic style for a realistic, unsentimental effect.

Origin of hard-boiled

1715–25; 1895–80 for def 2; hard + boiled
Related formshard-boiled·ness, noun


verb (used with object)
  1. to boil (an egg) until the yolk and white have become firm or solid.

Origin of hard-boil

First recorded in 1890–95
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for hard-boiled


  1. (of an egg) boiled until the yolk and white are solid
  2. informal
    1. tough, realistic
    2. cynical
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

Word Origin and History for hard-boiled

also hardboiled, 1723 in reference to eggs, from hard + boiled. In transferred sense "severe, tough," from 1886.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper