Meaning of “play hardball” in the English Dictionary

English

"play hardball" in English

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play hardball

mainly US informal

to be firm and determined in order to get what you want:

He's a nice guy, but he can play hardball when he needs to.

(Definition of “play hardball” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"play hardball" in American English

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play hardball

infml to behave in an unpleasant, threatening way so that you get what you want:

He’s a nice guy, but he can play hardball when he has to.

(Definition of “play hardball” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

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