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Hard yards

Posted by Paul Guthrie on October 19, 2001

In Reply to: Hard yards posted by James Briggs on October 18, 2001

: : A phrse which has been given currency by Australia's present prime minister and also by the treasurer - probably one picked up from the other - "to do the hard yards", or 'we've put in the hard yards".. Any ideas on meaning or derivation?

: Surely based on the somewhat older phrase 'to go the last mile'; ie to do the really hard bit of any task. The actual phrase seems contemporary and possibly a little artificial - still, one must have sound bites in these times, and I guess that is just what it is!

An alternative derivation may be from rugby. The yards in this case are the yards gained in moving your side forward on the field. I am not a rugby follower but from what I can understand 'hard yards' are yards gained by the forwards while retaining possession of the ball and carrying it forward by charging against the opposing team. The gains (yards) made in this way typically involve a lot of work (brute force).

The Macquarie slang dictionary has this definition:

"To go through with difficult and demanding work in order to achieve an end."