phrases, sayings, proverbs and idioms at

The Phrase Finder

The meaning and origin of the expression: Hard and fast

Browse phrases beginning with: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T UV W XYZ - Full List

Hard and fast


Rigidly adhered to - without doubt or debate.


Hard and fastThis is a nautical term. A ship that was hard and fast was simply one that was firmly beached on land.

The term must have been well-known by the early 19th century as it was use in a figurative sense then; for example, The [London] Times, January 1820:

"She was laid before the fire, at about a yard distance, and was hard and fast asleep."

The Sailor's Word-Book, William Henry Smyth's 1867 nautical dictionary, defines the term:

"Hard and fast. Said of a ship on shore."

See also - chock-a-block.

See other Nautical Phrases.