hard·​ball | \ ˈhärd-ˌbȯl How to pronounce hardball (audio) \

Definition of hardball

2 : forceful uncompromising methods employed to gain an end played political hardball

Examples of hardball in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The Pew findings will cement the issue as one of the top election questions facing two candidates who have tussled over who can better play hardball with Beijing. Rob Crilly, Washington Examiner, "Poll shows rising voter anger toward China as Trump and Biden try to seize the issue," 30 July 2020 But would worries about Sanders playing hardball with Jerusalem cause a significant percentage of Jewish voters to abandon the Democratic nominee for Trump? David M. Drucker, Washington Examiner, "Democrats confident tough-on-Israel Bernie Sanders won't cost party Jewish votes," 25 Feb. 2020 But playing hardball with a nation reeling from a horrific human disaster—and risking the trade deal falling apart in an election year—would be a risky move if Beijing does request some leeway on purchase commitments in 2020. Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, "Trade in the Time of Coronavirus," 7 Feb. 2020 For an administration not exactly known for its diplomatic subtlety — let alone playing hardball with Gulf monarchies — that’s a tough ask. Washington Post, "Libya’s war could be a snapshot of the 21st century’s new normal," 10 Jan. 2020 But the Redskins may just be playing hardball with Williams. BostonGlobe.com, "Gross. What happened to the Patriots-Ravens rivalry?," 2 Nov. 2019 But suggesting that the talk-show host is implicated in the woman’s death isn’t political hardball. Mike Brest, Washington Examiner, "Wall Street Journal: Trump 'smear' about Scarborough staffer death is 'same sort of trash' as Steele dossier," 27 May 2020 The state rejects his company SpaceX's request for $655,500, in part because of his hardball tactics to reopen his Tesla manufacturing facility (that effort worked). Arlene Martinez, USA TODAY, "In CA: Do the coasts do it best? When it comes to staying home, yes," 16 May 2020 Former prosecutors say such hardball tactics are routine in criminal cases. Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times, "Flynn fights for exoneration two years after pleading guilty," 30 Apr. 2020

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

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First Known Use of hardball

1857, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of hardball was in 1857

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Statistics for hardball

Last Updated

5 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Hardball.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hardball. Accessed 13 Aug. 2020.

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How to pronounce hardball (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of hardball

chiefly US, informal
: forceful and sometimes dishonest methods used to get something you want

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