hardball

[ hahrd-bawl ]
/ ˈhɑrdˌbɔl /

noun

baseball, as distinguished from softball.

adjective

tough or ruthless: He wasn't ready for the hardball politics of Washington.
outspoken, challenging, or difficult: Reporters asked the president some hardball questions.

Idioms

    play hardball, to act or work aggressively, competitively, or ruthlessly, as in business or politics.

Origin of hardball

First recorded in 1825–35; hard + ball1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for play hardball

hardball

/ (ˈhɑːdbɔːl) /

noun

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

Idioms and Phrases with play hardball

play hardball


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.

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