play hardball

play hardball (with one)

To be as ruthless, aggressive, or harsh (with someone) as is necessary to achieve a certain result. I think it's time we play hardball with the suspect—he's not going to talk otherwise. We're prepared to play hardball with the company if it means we'll be paid the appropriate amount for our work.
See also: hardball, play

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

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

mainly AMERICAN
If someone plays hardball, they will do anything that is necessary to achieve or obtain what they want, even if this involves being harsh or unfair. In past deals, Mr. Peng has shown he's willing to play hardball. The White House decided to retaliate by taking jobs away from his state, showing they were tough guys who could play hardball. Compare with play ball. Note: Hardball is the same as baseball, and is here being contrasted with softball, in which a larger, softer ball is used and the ball is thrown underarm.
See also: hardball, play

play hardball

use uncompromising and ruthless methods. informal
In North America, hardball is literally baseball, especially as contrasted with softball.
2000 Environmental History The fact that Hayden wielded this unprecedented influence demonstrates that even at age 89 he was capable of playing hardball when the situation demanded it.
See also: hardball, play

play ˈhardball

(especially American English) used to refer to a way of behaving, especially in politics, that shows that a person is determined to get what they want: It’s time to play hardball with the unions.He’s playing hardball with a client of mine.
See also: hardball, play

play hardball

verb
See also: hardball, play
References in periodicals archive ?
Chelsea play hardball with stars aged over 30, but are clearly ready to bend their house rules to get Dzeko over the line.
It is likely to become this summer's biggest transfer saga but Arsenal are desperate to play hardball to stop him going to City, a move that would infuriate their supporters.
EU chiefs to play 'hardball' EUROPEAN leaders have warned Theresa May they will play hardball over Britain's exit from the EU.
The UK should play hardball and if the EU wishes to impose taxes then we will reciprocate.
Koeman has also targeted Sunderland's Lamine Kone but David Moyes is ready to play hardball as he bids to keep him.
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.
WOLVES have told Sunderland to increase their bid for Steven Fletcher to at least pounds 12m as they prepare to play hardball over their prized asset, writes NEIL CAMERON.
Summary: Indian expatriate Kamalesh, whose sister tied the symbolic nuptial knot on his bride on the wedding day and made it to media headlines in the UAE and Kerala, is still stuck in Dubai as his sponsor allegedly continues to play hardball.
Even if he did try to play hardball, after February nobody would take him seriously.
SPANISH side Real Valladolid are ready to play hardball with Celtic over keeper Jacobo Sanz.
Brown: Time for MLB to Play Hardball on the Texas Rangers Sale (http://bizofbaseball.
The aforementioned control of the sale is far different than them holding on to the reins of the club (for more see Time for MLB to Play Hardball on the Texas Rangers Sale (http://bizofbaseball.
WIGAN will play hardball if necessary in a bid to keep Emile Heskey on their books until the end of the season at least.
Bookmakers have already shown they will play hardball, and if replacement all-weather fixtures are sought, arguably the Levy Board may see its duty to give priority to those that punters are more likely to bet on - the racing they can see
THE USA government is threatening to play hardball with Romania over the eastern European country's refusal to accept imports of American poultry, unless production plants meet European Union (EU) rules, especially on welfare.