play hardball

play hardball (with someone)

Fig. to act strong and aggressive about an issue with someone. Things are getting a little tough. The president has decided to play hardball on this issue. If he wants to play hardball with us, we can play that way, too.
See also: hardball, play

play hardball

to behave in an unpleasant, threatening way so that you get what you want Some of these religious groups play hardball with those who leave the faith.
Related vocabulary: go for the jugular
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of hardball (the game of baseball, which is played with a small, hard ball)
See also: hardball, play

play hardball

  (American & Australian)
to be so determined to get what you want, especially in business, that you use methods that are unfair or harm other people (often + with ) The company is playing hardball with the bank, holding back on payments it owes them to force an agreement.
See also: hardball, play

play hardball

Act aggressively and ruthlessly, as in It's only a month before the election, and I'm sure they'll start to play hardball. This term originated in baseball, where it alludes to using the standard ball as opposed to the slightly larger and minimally softer ball of softball. It was transferred to describe aggressive behavior only in the 1970s.
See also: hardball, play

play hardball

verb
See also: hardball, play
References in periodicals archive ?
It could leave United as big losers because they would miss out on a huge fee if they continue to play hardball.
The 26-year-old striker goes into the fortnight of the transfer window without a club and is understood to be growing frustrated by Rangers' decision to play hardball on the PS15million fee.
We have to hang tough, play hardball and find a way out of this box, because of the collateral damage that this poses, and the precedent that it creates to NAFTA as an institution and our co-operative efforts in North America.
If the firefighters play hardball, then the Government should do the same - and train up the armed forces to use fire brigade engines, which are paid for by the taxpayers.
Do you play hardball and push for a high price for your quasi-monopoly medication, seeking a much-needed boost to your bottom line?
The Union is willing to play hardball to achieve its goals.
He hoped the Mayor would play hardball the way he's done with the superintendents and the Fulton Fish Market.
But play hardball - don't acquire the technology just to say you're on the cutting edge.
He warns his aides, "They are going to play hardball with us, and if they feel that they have the political backing for it, they will try to cut our balls off without mercy.
It's clear to us he's just wanting to play hardball politics," said Perry Kenny, CSEA Civil Service Division director.
The studios then play hardball with the theatres, demanding a bigger percentage of the Box Office.
Talks have not always gone smoothly with Aulas and he is known to play hardball on transfers.
LEWIS HAMILTON is ready to play hardball with Ron Dennis when it comes to future contract negotiations, but still expects to come out smiling.
SMALL businesses that are afraid to play hardball with late-paying clients run the risk of becoming victims of the recession, according to a local tax and accountancy specialist.
He tried to play hardball with right-wingers - and broaden his appeal as a man of the people - by dumping the party's commitments to new grammar schools.