Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Baseball.
  • n. Informal The use of any means, however ruthless, to attain an objective.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. In baseball, a type of ball and baseball game, as opposed to softball.
  • adj. Tough or ruthless behavior, especially in combat, politics or business.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. baseball as distinguished from softball
  • n. a no-nonsense attitude in business or politics

Etymologies

hard +‎ ball (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • There is another MSNBC show called hardball where this guy has a debate with what he calls the hardball hotshots, and as much as he would like to think all views are covered, everyone of the hotshots are republican and support Bush.

    Tomorrow-- The OpEdNews/Zogby Poll Asks Questions Progressives Want answers to

  • From a former executive's point of view, suing your wife is the definition of hardball.

    FDIC Sues WaMu Executives, and Wives

  • There's a question as to whether politicians should play hardball and another question as to whether any particular instance of hardball is smart.

    Yet more on 'hardball'

  • He recognizes, after all, that these are "exceptional circumstances," but notes that, in exceptional circumstances, "hardball is called for," "hardball" being the traditionally favored nomenclature for threats to invade and destroy nuclear-armed, allied nations.

    Barry Eisler: The Definition of Insanity

  • Arguably the real source of all this hardball is increasing levels of partisan identification and ideological coherence.

    Matthew Yglesias » Constitutional Harball

  • Shrewd politicians can exploit this anger and still engage in hardball tactics — as Bush did by pledging to be "a uniter, not a divider," even as colleagues unleashed hell on Gore.

    Playing Dirty

  • You're essentially positing that Clinton's willingness to play "hardball" -- whatever the hell that means, and as if there isn't an activist left that will push * any* Dem to avoid the sort of tactical mistakes made by Gore and Kerry -- has more weight than the fact that "the enemy" is more dug in and raring to fight against Hillary Clinton than any of our other candidates.

    Poll: Huckabee Ahead By Five In Iowa!

  • But while political hardball may sometimes be fair — much depends on exactly what sort of hardball is contemplated — there’s a separate question: Is it likely to work, in the sense of accomplishing the hardballers’ goals?

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Attempts to Defeat the Kagan Nomination, and Political Hardball

  • I argue that constitutional hardball occurs when political actors see the chance for a permanent transformation of the constitutional order.

    Matthew Yglesias » Constitutional Harball

  • It's between criminal conduct -- and we now have these charges brought against Mr. Libby -- and political hardball, which is the charge against other members of the White House team.

    CNN Transcript Oct 30, 2005

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