Green’s Dictionary of Slang

hard-nosed adj.

also hard-nose
(orig. US)

1. stubborn, tough, uncompromising.

[US]K. Nicholson Barker III i: If she comes to say goodbye, don’t be hardnosed. Treat her decent.
[US]J. Jones From Here to Eternity (1998) 328: Falling for a hard nosed whore at Mrs Kipfer’s. That was just about that punk’s goddam speed.
[US]A. Zugsmith Beat Generation 25: Man, you’re hard nose!
[US]G. Swarthout Where the Boys Are 94: Men from the Big Ten are so hardnosed around anyone from the League.
[US]H.S. Thompson letter 16 Feb. in Proud Highway (1997) 321: I finally wrote him a very hardnose letter at his home.
[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 10: My buddy was hard-nose.
[UK]Observer Mag. 14 May 53: Officer Spottke is known as a cop’s cop: tough, hard-nosed, good in a fight.
[US]T. Wolfe Bonfire of the Vanities 370: Or if they really want to get hard-nosed about it, they could work on a theory of assault with a dangerous weapon.
[US]N. McCall Makes Me Wanna Holler (1995) 151: From the hardest-nosed thugs to the most bombed-out junkies.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 25 Feb. 13: Hard-nosed business man Hereman Blume [...] is drawn to Max’s icy ‘can-do’ attitude.

2. common-sense, sensible, e.g. hard-nosed practicalities.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 531: [...] 1970s.
[UK]Indep. on Sun. Culture 22 Aug. 2: A working-class background [...] taught him a hard-nosed attitude to money.