• synonyms


  1. baseball, as distinguished from softball.
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  1. tough or ruthless: He wasn't ready for the hardball politics of Washington.
  2. outspoken, challenging, or difficult: Reporters asked the president some hardball questions.
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  1. play hardball, to act or work aggressively, competitively, or ruthlessly, as in business or politics.
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Origin of hardball

First recorded in 1825–35; hard + ball1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for hardball


  1. US and Canadian baseball as distinct from softball
  2. play hardball informal, mainly US and Canadian to act in a ruthless or uncompromising way
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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 hardball


1883 as the name of a game, from hard + ball (n.1). The figurative sense of "tough, uncompromising behavior" is from 1973.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper