hard yards

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A sporting analogy referring to the game of rugby football, where making progress on the field, in measurements of yards, may lead to accomplishment and victory.[1]

Alternatively derived from sailing, when furling or unfurling the canvas from certain (perhaps higher) spars was both dangerous and difficult.


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the hard yards pl (plural only)

  1. (originally Australia) The key effort in completing a difficult task.
    Synonym: heavy lifting
    do the hard yards
    put in the hard yards
    • 2007, Ian Cocoran, The Art of Digital Branding, Allworth Press, →ISBN, pages 128–129:
      As with coupons and vouchers, there is seemingly no end to the opportunities that exist to improve a Web site's traffic flow by giving something away for nothing—as long as users are prepared to put in the hard yards, of course.
    • 2010, Kelly Doust, A Life in Frocks, Sydney: Murdoch Books, →ISBN, page 129:
      Those clever women at the frontier of fashion do all the hard yards for us, every month, by attending the shows in London, Paris and New York.
    • 2017 August 22, Peter Lewis, “In a tough campaign the marriage equality team faces hard yards ahead”, in The Guardian[1]:
      In tough conditions, with no room for complacency, the campaign will need to slog out the hard yards, give it 110% and leave it all on the field.
    • 2021 December, Jon Dale, “Dead Moon fever!”, in Uncut, ISSN 1368-0722, page 8:
      The couple had already put in the hard yards: Fred started out in '60s freakbeat combos The Weeds and Lollipop Shoppe, with Toody joining him in early '80s punk trio The Rats.


  1. ^ Andrew Delahunty (2006), “hard yards”, in Talking Balls: A Guide to the Language of Sport, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, →ISBN, page 86

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