Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Like this video? Subscribe to our free daily email and get a new idiom video every day!

(as) tough as (old) (shoe) leather

1. Having great physical strength, health, or resilience. Marty has played in 500 straight games without an injury. The guy's as tough as old shoe leather. Bert is as tough as leather, so he'll have no trouble helping you move all this furniture!
2. Having a very tough, leathery texture or consistency (as of meat). This steak is as tough as leather—I can barely even cut through it with a knife! That chicken's going to end up tough as old shoe leather if you leave it in the oven any longer.
3. Resisting emotional reactions or displays. Our aunt is as tough as old leather, so we asked her to give the eulogy, knowing that she's the only one who could do it without crying.
4. Displaying determination or inflexibility. You'll never get Rich to change his opinion—he's as tough as old shoe leather when it comes to politics.
See also: leather, tough

(as) tough as leather

Having great strength of body, mind, or will; no susceptible to sickness or injury. My grandmother is tough as leather—she lived through the Great Depression and raised four kids pretty much all on her own! That guy's tough as leather; 400 consecutive games, and not even a sprained ankle.
See also: leather, tough

as ever trod shoe-leather

As ever walked the earth; as ever lived. You're as talented a baseball player as ever trod shoe-leather!
See also: ever, trod

be (as) tough as shoe leather

1. To be very physically strong and resilient. Marty has played in 500 straight games without so much as a sprained ankle—he's as tough as shoe leather. My grandfather did a lot of physical labor around the family farm, so he was tough as shoes leather.
2. To have a tough, leathery texture. Said especially of meat. This meat is as tough as shoe leather—I can't even cut it!
See also: leather, shoe, tough

go hell for leather

To move, act, or do something very quickly or as quickly as possible. When her ex-boyfriend walked into the party, Patty went hell for leather to get out of there. The political candidates have been going hell for leather trying to get last-minute support from voters ahead of Friday's election.
See also: go, hell, leather

hell for leather

Very quickly or as quickly as possible. When her ex-boyfriend walked into the party, Patty went hell for leather to get out of there.
See also: hell, leather

hell-bent for leather

Very quickly or as quickly as possible. The "leather" in the phrase is thought to refer to a horse's saddle or whip. When her ex-boyfriend walked into the party, Patty went hell-bent for leather to get out of there.
See also: leather

leather or feather

Red meat (typically beef or mutton) or poultry (typically chicken). We've got both lamb and chicken curries available, so which would you like—leather or feather? Our restaurant's aim isn't to convince people to stop eating meat, but simply to give them a delicious alternative to leather or feather.
See also: feather, leather


(used before a noun) Having an extremely or inordinately loud or strong voice, as of someone with very robust lungs. Despite her petite frame, the leather-lunged lead singer was able to shake the audience with her soulful outpourings.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

hell-bent for leather

Inf. moving or behaving recklessly; riding a horse fast and recklessly. They took off after the horse thief, riding hell-bent for leather. Here comes the boss. She's not just angry; she's hell-bent for leather.
See also: leather

*tough as an old boot

 and *tough as old (shoe) leather 
1. [of meat] very tough. (*Also: as ~.) This meat is tough as an old boot. Bob couldn't eat the steak. It was as tough as an old boot.
2. [of someone] very strong willed. (*Also: as ~.) When Brian was lost in the mountains, his friends did not fear for him; they knew he was tough as leather. My English teacher was as tough as an old boot.
3. [of someone] not easily moved by feelings such as pity. (*Also: as ~.) She doesn't care. She's as tough as old shoe leather. He was born tough as an old boot and has only grown more rigid.
See also: boot, old, tough
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

hell-bent for leather

Moving recklessly fast, as in Out the door she went, hell-bent for leather. The use of hell-bent in the sense of "recklessly determined" dates from the first half of the 1800s. Leather alludes to a horse's saddle and to riding on horseback; this colloquial expression may be an American version of the earlier British army jargon hell for leather, first recorded in 1889.
See also: leather
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

hell for leather

mainly BRITISH
1. If you go hell for leather, you move very quickly, and often recklessly. They ran hell for leather to catch up. We bought a map, filled up and drove hell for leather to Lisbon. Note: You can also use hell-for-leather before a noun. There was a hell-for-leather dash to get the train.
2. If you do something hell for leather, you do it very quickly and energetically. Once I decide to write a play, I go for it hell for leather. Note: This expression may originally have related to horse riding. `Leather' would refer to a saddle.
See also: hell, leather

tough as leather

1. If something is as tough as leather, it is very tough. Her hands were tough as leather.
2. If someone is tough as leather, they have a strong character or body and do not get upset or hurt easily. He's shown he's tough as leather.
See also: leather, tough
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

hell for leather

as fast as possible.
This phrase dates from the late 19th century, and originally referred to riding a horse at reckless speed.
See also: hell, leather
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

hell for ˈleather

(old-fashioned, British English, informal) with the greatest possible speed, energy, etc: I saw a man going hell for leather down the street, with two policemen running after him.This is from horse riding. A rider can hit a horse with a strip of leather to make it run faster.
See also: hell, leather
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

leather or feather

n. a choice of beef or chicken for a meal on an airplane. (Contrived.) What do the victims get today? Oh, yes, it’s leather or feather.
See also: feather, leather
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

ride hell (bent) for leather, to

To move as fast as possible. Hell in this expression dates from the nineteenth century and simply implies very fast (as in “to go like hell”); the origin of leather, however, is no longer known. The most common citation is Rudyard Kipling’s poem “Shillin’ a Day” (1892): “When we rode Hell-for-leather, Both squadrons together.” The variant, hellbent, means stubbornly determined (or “bent on going to hell”) as well as very fast, and is an early nineteenth-century Americanism. Sue MacVeigh used it in her 1940 murder mystery, Streamlined Murder: “It was going hell-bent for election.”
See also: hell, ride
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer

hell-bent for leather

Moving rapidly and with determination. “Hell” in this case strengthens the word “bent,” which means a direct route (although it sounds as though it should mean the opposite). “Leather” refers either to a saddle or to a whip used to urge a horse to move faster, or perhaps items. “Hell for leather” meaning “all deliberate haste” was a popular phrase in itself. Among a number of variants is “hell-bent for election,” said to have originated with the 1840 Maine gubernatorial race and appearing in an 1899 Stephen Crane story: “One puncher racin' his cow-pony hell-bent-for-election down Main Street.” Others are “hell-bent for breakfast,” “for Sunday,” and “for Georgia.”
See also: leather
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price
See also:
References in periodicals archive ?
The traders have demanded the PTI government to relax taxes on chemicals and export of leather, recently imposed general sales tax besides reining in the price of dollar.
As was reported earlier, Uzbekistan intends to initiate export of men's shoes and leather goods made from ostrich leather.
Dr Onu further said that the industrialised nations of the world today focused on areas of leather and textile production and were able to grow into more sophisticated areas like motor engineering.
In view of productivity and potentiality of the show most of foreign buyers and customs have confirmed to visit the show at Lahore specially from turkey France Germany Hong Kong Poland Portugal UK USA and many more would be with us during the show at Lahore besides allied industries of leather sector specially machineries and chemicals and components would also be participating in majority to be the integral part of the show to make the show more result oriented for trade and promotion of leather sector or Pakistan'.
According to the minister, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra are major production and export centres of leather, leather products, and footwear.
The figure is arrived at through an estimation of S billion that would have been earned by primary producers and Sh2 billion that would have been bagged by tanneries through export of better quality products.A recent World Bank funded deep-dive study on the leather sector found that lack of certification services hurt local prospects of growing the industry since good-looking imports continued to be sold locally despite glaring proof that they were not genuine.
When I showed Jim my grandfather's leather portfolio as a template, I could see the glimmer in his eye admiring the craftsmanship.
Meanwhile, on year-on-year basis, the exports of leather products from the country increased by 21.60 percent in May 2018 when compared to the exports of May 2017.
Among total of the slaughter product , 81% is the rate of leather production while Loss is 19%, or about 6 million piece while losses in cow's leather is 100% due to ignorance with its necessity and economic value Dr.
The leather industry comprises of 6 sub-sectors such as; tanning, leather garments, leather gloves, leather footwear, leather shoe uppers, and leather goods.
A beautifully embroidered designer leather handbag doesn't have to cost thousands of dollars if you sew it yourself using an embroidery machine.
LAHORE -- A three-day Pakistan Mega Leather Show 2018 (PMLS18) has attracted potential buyers and investors from the country and also from China, India, Italy, Germany, Hong Kong, Cyprus, Spain, USA and UAE.
IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE festive season may be over, but with the cold weather still persisting, try and keep cosy this New Year with a selection of sumptuous leather homewares.
A contemporary take on men's leather goods, the idea for Faire Leather Co.
The leather and leather made-ups industry plays a significant role in the economy of Pakistan and its share in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is 4 percent.