hard knocks

plural noun

Definition of hard knocks

: rough, unsparing treatment (as in use or in life) Commercial-strength squares—baked clay, ceramic, vinyl or rubber stand up to hard knocks at home.Apartment Life especially : difficult or painful experiences or circumstances This is a testimonial, above all, of hard knocks, from a mother's absence and a family's sacrifice to care for his older, tubercular brother to the betrayal by White House patrons and staff. — Roger Morris often used in the phrase school of hard knocks Romances with men are the curriculum you'll need to determine what's right for you and what isn't. I'd prefer if you'd learn quickly and easily, rather than at the school of hard knocks. — Dave Singleton

Examples of hard knocks in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Jean Rhys’s first four novels are peopled with, and powered by, sharply depicted women dealing with their unfair share of hard knocks in a hostile world. Malcolm Forbes, WSJ, 17 June 2022 Seated behind a clear plastic partition, the two older women share confidences that expose some hard knocks of experience. Dennis Harvey, Variety, 2 June 2022 Utilizing setbacks as learning tools, lessons were revealed inside and outside the ‘school’ of hard knocks illustrating the power of acquiring financial literacy for early-career professionals. Rod Berger, Forbes, 1 June 2022 The Detroit Lions have endured their share of hard knocks over the years, and now the franchise will be featured on the reality series by the same name. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, 28 Mar. 2022 The Detroit Lions have endured their share of hard knocks over the years, and now the franchise will be featured on the reality series by the same name. Dave Birkett, USA TODAY, 28 Mar. 2022 Time and the school of hard knocks have taught me: Your success depends on your people's success. John Rex, Forbes, 19 Oct. 2021 Although my hard knocks were real and there wasn’t a Daddy Warbucks in my future. Liz Elting, Forbes, 29 Oct. 2021 There’s just one problem with the story: Her school of hard knocks was 1970s Rhodesia. John Patrick Leary, The New Republic, 24 Sep. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hard knocks.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of hard knocks

1758, in the meaning defined above

Learn More About hard knocks

Time Traveler for hard knocks

Time Traveler

The first known use of hard knocks was in 1758

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near hard knocks

hard-knock

hard knocks

hard labor

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for hard knocks

Last Updated

23 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Hard knocks.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hard%20knocks. Accessed 30 Jun. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!