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school of hard knocks

noun
  1. the experience gained from living, especially from disappointment and hard work, regarded as a means of education: The only school he ever attended was the school of hard knocks.
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Origin of school of hard knocks

An Americanism dating back to 1910–15
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Idioms and Phrases with school of hard knocks

school of hard knocks

The practical experience of life, including hardship and disappointments. For example, A self-made man, he never went to college but came up through the school of hard knocks. This idiom uses knock, “a blow,” as a metaphor for a setback. [Mid-1800s]

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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.