to play hardball

Idiom Definition

Idiom Definition - play hardball

"to play hardball"

to act aggressively and ruthlessly


Related words and phrases:

Idiom Scenario 1

Idiom Definition - play hardball

Two colleagues are talking ...

Colleague 1:  Our main competitor is struggling financially. Sales of their number one product are down.

Colleague 2:  That's great news. We should cut the price of our competing product and force them out of the market.

Colleague 1:  I like it. Even though we might take a short-term loss, we will gain big in the long run when we eliminate our main rival. Playing hardball is going to get us to the top.

Idiom Scenario 2

Idiom Definition - play hardball

Two friends are talking ...

Friend 1:  You don't look very happy.

Friend 2:  My soon-to-be ex-wife's lawyers are playing hardball. Our joint bank account has been frozen. And I am going to have to take the bus to work. The car was in my wife's name and it has been seized.

Friend 1:  I there anything you can do?

Friend 2:  Not really. As aggressive and ruthless as her lawyers are being, it is all within the law.

to play hardball - Usage:


Usage Frequency Index:   394   click for frequency by country

to play hardball - Gerund Form:

Playing hardball may not win you friends but is good for business.

to play hardball - Examples:

1)  ... least to lose in a trade war -- which might embolden its government to play hardball.

2)  The EU will play hardball in order to discourage other defectors. 

3)  ... suggesting that it does not have the financial bandwidth to play hardball and can not afford a fall in prices.

4)  ... tried to play hardball with Fitzpatrick but caved and gave him a one-year, $12 million deal in July.

5)  ... the organization has much less leverage and much less ability to play hardball in the hopes ...

6)  ... has been a passive but influential member of the party, has decided to play hardball politics.

7)  ... be a compassionate one but if that proves impossible, I am prepared to play hardball.

8)  Far from embracing partnership, American negotiators play hardball from start to finish, and also insist on secrecy. 

9)  Interestingly, WWE reportedly will want to play hardball with Undertaker with his contract if he chooses not to work.

10)  And he will continue to play hardball. We will use all means legally available in managing this very significant ...

11)  Many people, especially at the executive level, believe playing hardball is the only way to make sure these negotiations are handled in their favor.

12)  Corrections had been playing hardball but the family would not back down, he said.

13)  ... retaliate, overall trade shrinks and jobs are lost. History says playing hardball on trade backfires.

14)  ... exclusivity and since their space is diminishing they need to stand their ground. Playing hardball will result in governmental appeasement, so they calculate.

15)  And even as a tactical negotiating ploy, there may be advantages in playing hardball. UK negotiators should take a firm stand at the outset and lay down clear ...

16)  ... with many advantages; sure, he may have cut some ethical corners and played hardball more often than not.

17)  ... with the backing of parent company Phillips' legal team, played hardball and negotiations dragged on for months. 

18)  ... made headway and even then, the Russians played hardball. In the end, Honda had to wait until his four-year contract had expired.

19)  Channel bosses are said to have "played hardball" to try to get both shows for millions less than they pay already.

20)  The hard-nosed approach was in action when Dunedin played hardball with the organisers of next year's ...