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1. modifier Of or characterized by misfortune, hardship, adversity, etc. I can understand John's tendency to drink, as he's led quite a hard-luck life. Here he goes again with some hard-luck story to get us to pay for his drinks.
2. noun Misfortune, hardship, adversity, etc. I've been having a lot of hard luck lately. It just seems like nothing is going right for me!
3. An expression of sympathy or condolences for someone who has experienced some slight or mild misfortune or hardship. I just heard that Janet broke up with you. That's hard luck, buddy.
Misfortune, adversity, as in He's had a lot of hard luck in his day. This expression is also used in the phrase hard-luck story, a tale of one's misfortune that is related in order to get sympathy (or a donation). For example, We can't ignore her hard-luck story, even if you doubt that it's true. [Second half of 1500s] Also see tough break.