American Idioms – Idiom Wizard Lists Over 5,500 Idioms & Slang Descriptions

Play hardball


A strong offense in negotiations. Serious competition or debate. Desire to win by any means. ‘Hardball’ is in contrast to ‘softball’ a less aggressive competition. A news reporter may play hardball in asking tough questions of a politician. A businessman may play hardball in negotiations with another company. (Compare to Drive a hard bargain.)

“When I asked the boss for a raise in salary, he played hardball with me and said only if I worked an extra 12 hours per week.”

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