Slang dictionary

hard in the paint

[ hahrd in thuh peynt ]

What does hard in the paint mean?

Originating in basketball, hard in the paint is a slang expression for giving one's full effort.

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Related words

realest, trill, Flocka, Spida, ball is life, basketball head, keep it 100, baller, March Madness

Where does hard in the paint come from?

Hard in the paint comes from basketball slang. In the sport, the paint, also called the key or free throw lane, refers to the rectangular lane underneath the hoop on a basketball court. It’s often shaded or painted (as with team colors), hence the name, recorded since the 1980s.

Because more shots are made closer to the net, the paint sees a lot of action in a game, so players going for baskets in the paint need to be aggressive in their efforts—or go hard, to use another slang phrase.

To go hard in the paint spread from the court to youth slang for “to give it one’s best” in the early 2000s, likely due to the role of basketball in youth culture.

It rose to further prominence in 2010 when rapper Waka Flocka Flame released his track “Hard in da Paint,” where he boasts he goes hard in the paint to beat his rivals. The single gave the slang expression a huge boost in popular culture.

Examples of hard in the paint

I was raised on Big East basketball. Hard in the paint all day long!
@ManishKhatta, March 8, 2021
It’s going to be tough because I’m used to going hard in the paint, so to speak. To preserve my voice and because of the scarring, I’m going to have to become almost conversational in my preaching and teaching, which will be OK.
Rudolph McKissick Jr. quoted by Destiny McKeiver & Roxy Tyler, WJXT, July 29, 2018

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Who uses hard in the paint?

One can go hard in the paint in a variety of contexts. Athletics. Academics. Extracurriculars. It’s a colorful and versatile expression for “going all out.”

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Note

This is not meant to be a formal definition of hard in the paint like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of hard in the paint that will help our users expand their word mastery.