Green’s Dictionary of Slang

hardhead n.

[SE hard-headed; sense 2 reinforces the white cliché that one can never knock out or hurt a black man by hitting him on his head because it is too solid to damage]

1. (US) a white native of rural Tennessee or Kentucky.

[US]Bangor Mercury n.d. n.p.: A smart sprinkling of the inhabitants of Illinois are from New England, a heap from Kentucky, and the balance are John Bulls, Paddies, Pukes, Wolverines [...] Hard Heads.
[US]J. Jones From Here to Eternity (1998) 26: A goddam hardhead [...] a worthless Kentuckian, but who will be a corporal in six weeks, but who will still be a worthless goddam hardhead.

2. (US) alcohol, usu. whiskey.

[US]St Louis Globe-Democrat 19 Jan. n.p.: They nominate ‘bottled electricity,’ ‘lemonade with a stick in it,’ ‘jig-water,’ ‘budge,’ ‘bilge-water,’ ‘bug-juice,’ ‘rat-poison,’ ‘fusel-oil,’ ‘red-eye,’ ‘liquid ointment,’ ‘cut nails,’ ‘hard head,’ ‘benzine,’ ‘nitro-glycerine,’ ‘oil,’ ‘tea,’ ‘eye-water,’ ‘chain- lightning.’ [...] they all want the same article, alcohol, more or less diluted.

3. (US black) a rebellious, non-conformist black person, a hot-tempered person.

[US]Z.N. Hurston Mules and Men (1995) 66: Miss, you know uh heap uh dese hard heads wants to woof at you but dey skeered.
[US]Z.N. Hurston ‘Story in Harlem Sl.’ in Novels and Stories (1995) 1001: Whenever he was challenged by a hard-head or a frail eel on the right of his title he would eye-ball the idol-breaker with a slice of ice.
[US]M. Braly Shake Him Till He Rattles (1964) 21: If you were a hardhead, as Cabiness admitted he was, you could make a little trouble go a long way.
[US]E. Torres Q&A 197: Gui, Gui. Why’re you such a hardhead?
[SA](con. 1950s) G. Moloi My Life 112: I also remember the Krugersdorp hardheads like Bular, Lefty, Fish, Election and so on.
[US]N. McCall Makes Me Wanna Holler (1995) 41: Why you wanna bruise your hand on some hardhead when you can be somewhere fuckin’? [Ibid.] 126: Managing their money, supervising hardheads, and moving along.
[US]P. Beatty Sellout (2016) 182: There are a few hardheads around who answer to their Christian names.

4. (Aus.) a regular horserace gambler.

[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 24 Oct. 1/3: All the hard headswere waiting for Cranborne, having carefully noted the hold Want had of him at Rosehill.

5. (Aus.) a villain, a criminal.

[US]W. Scott ‘Take ’Im Alive’ Und. Mag. May [Internet] Greetings, Hardhead. Going to shell out like a beer baron on a souse, eh?
[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 531: [...] since ca. 1950.
[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 49: Baker presents a breathtaking variety of historical and contemporary argot of convicts, wizzers, traps, wallopers, hardheads, con artists [...] and assorted thieves.

6. (US) an extremely zealous person.

[US](con. 1945) E. Thompson Tattoo (1977) 292: Discipline in such things was relaxed except for the occasional hardhead who wanted to write down a man’s name for any small forgetfulness.

7. (US) a fool.

[US]A. Zugsmith Beat Generation 99: ‘Hardhead, dummkopf, estupido,’ Jake muttered to himself.
[US]I.L. Allen Lang. of Ethnic Conflict 50: Stereotypes of Low Intelligence: hard-head [also thick-head, bonehead].

8. (US) an intransigent, uncompromising person.

[US]‘Ed Lacy’ Men from the Boys (1967) 13: I asked you in a nice way, but you hardheads got to get smacked down.
[US]J. Thompson Texas by the Tail (1994) 12: They were invariably hard-heads, those publishers: chronic cynics with a talent for poking holes in the smoothest promotional pitch.
[US]J. Díaz This Is How You Lose Her 188: Like a hardhead you keep trying to run but the pain sharpens.