hard case

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Also found in: Idioms, Wikipedia.

hard case

n.
1. A tough, unsentimental person.
2. A person who is persistently insolent or difficult to control.
References in classic literature ?
That crew of Liverpool hard cases had in them the right stuff.
I declare it's a very hard case indeed, and I am a most unfortunate girl.
This Makawao is evidently one of them, and a hard case as well, if there's anything in Johnny's gammon about twenty pounds reward for him.
He ain't the hard case he's trying to make himself believe he is.
But as I know that it is a mark of prudence not to do by foul means what may be done by fair, I will ask these gentlemen, the guards and commissary, to be so good as to release you and let you go in peace, as there will be no lack of others to serve the king under more favourable circumstances; for it seems to me a hard case to make slaves of those whom God and nature have made free.
She supposed she must say more before she were entitled to his clemency; but it was a hard case to be obliged still to lower herself in his opinion.
This was a hard case for Cotton Mather, who saw no other way to rescue his poor child Samuel from the disease.
It was a hard case, upon my word"; and, "I do think you were very much to be pitied," were the kind responses of listening sympathy.
It was a hard case that a vigorous mood for quarrelling, so highly capable of using an opportunity, should not meet with a single remark from Mr.
Why, Major, I believe you’re a friend to justice and the right, though you go so often to the grand house; but it’s a hard case to a man to have his honest calling for a livelihood stopped by laws, and that, too, when, if right was done, he mought hunt or fish on any day in the week, or on the best flat in the Patent, if he was so minded.
I met him on the cars when I went down the line on Wednesday--a hard case if ever there was one.
But the very genteel lady's English chariot being already horsed and at the inn-door, the landlord had slipped up-stairs to represent his hard case.