tough nut to crack
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! Figuring out the best way to modernize our product without alienating existing customers is definitely 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. The spy we captured is a tough nut to crack; he hasn't said a thing since we began the interrogation.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
tough nut to crackverb
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
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.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer