do/learn something the hard way

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do something the hard way

to accomplish something in the most difficult manner, rather than by an easier way. I made it to this job the hard way. I came up through the ranks. She did it the hard way. She had no help from her parents.
See also: hard, way

learn (something) the hard way

 and find (something) out the hard way
to learn something by experience, especially by an unpleasant experience. (As opposed to learning in school, from reading, etc.) She learned how to make investments the hard way. I wish I didn't have to learn things the hard way. I found out the hard way that it's difficult to work and go to school at the same time.
See also: hard, learn, way

do something the hard way

COMMON If you do something the hard way, you have difficulty doing it or it is unpleasant for you to do it, often as a result of your own actions or decisions. Anything I've achieved has been done the hard way, through a lot of hard work. Ms Lomax, we can do this the hard way or the easy way.
See also: hard, something, way

do/learn something the ˈhard way

learn something from experience, especially when this is unpleasant: I learned the hard way not to trust door-to-door salesmen.Why do you always do everything the hard way?
See also: hard, learn, something, way