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hard put, be

Find something very difficult, as in The show was so bad that I was hard put to conceal my dismay, or Manufacturers will be hard put to meet the new standards. [c. 1700]

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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.