- baseball, as distinguished from softball.
- tough or ruthless: He wasn't ready for the hardball politics of Washington.
- outspoken, challenging, or difficult: Reporters asked the president some hardball questions.
- play hardball, to act or work aggressively, competitively, or ruthlessly, as in business or politics.
Origin of hardball
- US and Canadian baseball as distinct from softball
- play hardball informal, mainly US and Canadian to act in a ruthless or uncompromising way
Act aggressively and ruthlessly, as in It's only a month before the election, and I'm sure they'll start to play hardball. This term originated in baseball, where it alludes to using the standard ball as opposed to the slightly larger and minimally softer ball of softball. It was transferred to describe aggressive behavior only in the 1970s.