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[hahrd-bawl] /ˈhɑrdˌbɔl/

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

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


: fields hardball questions in a practice TV interview/ despite his hardball attitude toward sponsors of offensive TV shows


Serious and consequential activity, work, etc; perilous and responsible doings: It’s hardball now, it’s not games anymore/ It’s going to be hard ball. We’re talking about physicians losing income


play hardball (1973+)


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