Green’s Dictionary of Slang

hard adj.

1. [18C+] pertaining to cash, coins, change (as opposed to notes).

2. [19C+] tough, aggressive, violent.

3. [late 19C-1900s] of alcohol, strong.

4. [1930s+] (orig. US black/teen) on bad = good model, excellent, fashionable, admirable.

5. [1950s+] (drugs) of narcotics, usu. heroin.

6. [1980s+] (US) of clothing, in a tough style, rugged.

In compounds


see separate entries.

hard baby (n.)

[late 19C] (US) a thug, a rough, tough man.

hardback (n.)

[2000s] (UK black) a villain, a thug, a ‘tough guy’.


see separate entries.

hard case

see separate entries.

hard chaw (n.) (also hardjaw) [SE chaw, chew]

[20C+] (Irish) a tough person.

hard daddy (n.) [daddy n. (12)]

[1960s+] (orig. US prison) a masculine, ‘butch’ lesbian.

hard dick (n.) [dick n.1 ]

[1970s+] (US) a ‘tough guy’.

hard goods (n.)


hard guy (n.)

see separate entry.

hard horse (n.) (also hard colt)

[early 19C–1920s] (US) a brutal, tyrannical person.

hard leg

see separate entries.

hard lot (n.)

[mid-19C–1900s] (US) a rough, aggressive individual.

hard mack (n.) [mack n.2 (1)]

[1970s+] a tough, aggressive, brutal pimp.

hard man (n.)

see separate entry.

hard morris (n.) [? anecdotal; i.e. proper name Morris or SE morris (dancing), i.e. the ‘dancing’ around of a fighter]

[1940s+] (W.I.) a tough fighter.

hard nut (n.)

see separate entry.

hardrocker (n.) [hard rock n.]

[1970s+] (US) a thug, a tough person.

hard root (n.)

[1920s+] (Irish) a tough, devil-may-care individual.

hard stuff (n.)

see separate entry.

hard thomas (n.) [? biblical doubting Thomas]

[1950s] (W.I.) a stubborn man.

hard ticket (n.)

1. [late 19C+] (US) a ruthless, uncompromising, tough person.

2. [1960s+] (Irish) a humorist, an eccentric.

hard white (n.)

[1990s+] (US black/drugs) crack cocaine.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

hard-back (adj.) [the onset of back problems with advancing age] [20C+] (W.I.)

1. approaching middle-age or older.

2. used of one who ought to know better.

hard-baked (adj.)

1. [early-mid-19C] (orig. US) stern, unrelenting.

2. [mid–late 19C] constipated.

hard bit (n.)

see separate entries.

hard body (n.)

[1980s+] (US) a physically trim, sexually attractive person.

hard-boiled (adj.)

see separate entry.

hard cheese (n.) (also hard Cheddar, hard fodder)

[mid-19C+] bad luck; usu. as hard cheese on..., hard cheese for...; the phr. may well imply minimal or non-existent sympathy.


see separate entries.

hard-cutting (adj.) [var. on hard-hitting adj.]

[1940s] (US black) extremely good, fashionable.

hard doer (n.) [ext. of doer n.2 (2)] [20C+] (Aus.)

1. a character, an eccentric, one who never gives up despite any circumstances.

2. an amusing fellow, a ‘good sport’.

hard drink (n.)

[late 16C–early 18C] stale, sour drink.

hard dumpling (n.)

[mid-19C] in boxing, a fist.


see separate entries.


see separate entries.

hard hair (n.)

[1950s+] (US black/W.I.) a black person’s naturally kinky hair.

hard hat (n.)

1. [1930s–40s] (US) a bowler hat.

2. [1940s+] (US) a construction worker.

hardhead (n.)

see separate entries.


see separate entries.

hard john (n.) [john n.1 ]

[1930s–40s] (US black) an FBI agent.

hard lines (n.)

see separate entry.

hard money (n.) [pun on sense 2 above and SE hard, difficult]

[1940s] (US Und.) counterfeit money.


see separate entries.

hard neck (n.) [i.e. to be able to stick one’s neck out under neck n. because it is so hard; note Deuteronomy 31:27 and 10:16, which use hard neck and harden the neck, to imply intransigence] [late 19C+] (Irish / Scots)

cheek, impudence.


see separate entries.

hard nut (n.)

see separate entry.

hard oil (n.) [hard oil, any form of grease, used for lubrication, that will not flow; orig. used in WWI for butter]

[1910s–40s] (US) butter, margarine, lard.


see separate entries.

hard one (n.)

see separate entries.

hard-pay man (n.)

[1950s] (W.I.) a bad debtor, through either his inability or his unwillingness to pay.

hard puncher (n.) [such a cap identifies the wearer as a thug]

[mid–late 19C] a fur cap typically worn by a London tough.

hard-pushed (adj.)

[mid-19C–1920s] in poor economic circumstances, in difficulties.

hard rock

see separate entries.


see separate entries.

hard shot

see separate entries.

hard skull-fry (n.) [the hot lye that is placed on the head to straighten one’s hair]

[1940s–50s] (US black) a straightened or ‘processed’ hairdo that is covered in hair-oil or cream.

hard tack (n.) [tack n.1 ]

1. [early 19C–1940s] inadequate rations [naval use hard tack, ship’s biscuits, coarse food; SE hard, difficult/intoxicating].

2. [1910s] (Aus.) hard work.

3. [1960s+] (Irish) spirits, as opposed to beer.

hard tail (n.)

1. [1910s–80s] (US) a mule, thus hard-tailed adj.

2. [1930s–70s] (US) an experienced man.

hard time/-timer

see separate entries.

hard times (n.) [SE hard times, a period of poverty]

[mid-19C–1950s] (US) a cheap, poor quality fabric, which resembles heavy wool but is not much better than cotton shoddy and used for the cheapest of clothes; thus hard times party, someone who wears worn-out or seedy clothes.


see separate entries.

hard washer (n.)

[1930s] (US) a strong alcoholic drink.

hard way (n.)

1. [20C+] (gambling) the making of an even point in a dice game by throwing a pair rather than two separate numbers; thus in pool, the making of a pot through a difficult rather than easy shot; also in fig. use.

2. [1980s] (UK prison) a sentence served without remission.

hard word (n.)

see separate entry.

In phrases

go hard in the paint (v.) (also basketball imagery)

[2010s] (US campus) to commit oneself wholeheartedly.

hard as lard (adj.) [assonance]

[1940s–60s] (US black) excellent, wonderful, as good as one could desire.

In exclamations