a tough nut to crack
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Related to a tough nut to crack: for good measure, out of whack, slip through the cracks, perish the thought
a tough nut
A person, thing, situation, or problem that is particularly difficult to understand, solve, or deal with. I've been dating Jenny for over a year, and I still think she's a tough nut to crack! Figuring out the best way to modernize our product without alienating existing customers is definitely a tough nut to crack. The spy we captured is a tough nut; he hasn't said a thing since we began the interrogation.
a tough nut to crack
1. A difficult task to complete. Getting an A in this class will be a tough nut to crack. You want me to find more money in the budget? Ha, there's a tough nut to crack!
2. A challenging or unreasonable person to understand or deal with. Our super-strict principal is a tough nut to crack, so I hope Kate can convince her to let us host this event. Because our boss usually keeps to himself, I have no idea what his interests are—he's a tough nut to crack.
a tough nut to crackor
a hard nut to crack
1. If you say that a problem is a tough nut to crack or a hard nut to crack, you mean that it is difficult to solve. The really tough nut to crack will be to persuade the older staff that change is necessary. The American market is a very hard nut to crack because it is so vast. Note: You can also just refer to a difficult problem as a tough nut or a hard nut. The tough nut for this government is undoubtedly the economy.
2. If you say that someone is a tough nut to crack or a hard nut to crack, you mean that they are difficult to defeat. Harrington has taken 17.5 points from a possible 20 in international singles, making him a tough nut to crack. Three wins and three draws prove United are a hard nut to crack.
tough nut to crack, a
A difficult problem; a hard person to deal with. This early analogy, also put as a hard nut to crack, was first drawn in the early eighteenth century. Benjamin Franklin used it in a letter in 1745: “Fortified towns are hard nuts to crack; and your teeth have not been accustomed to it.” A similar term from a somewhat later era is tough customer, likewise meaning a person difficult to deal with. Dickens used it in Barnaby Rudge (1841): “Rather a tough customer in argument, Joe, if anybody was to try and tackle him.”