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Hard Yards

Posted by S. Ryan on May 22, 2003

In Reply to: Hard Lines posted by S. Ryan on May 22, 2003

: : I had the following suggestion sent to me the other day. Although possible, the author admits to a guess. Any ideas as to the origin/first use etc? I couldn't find any documentation.

: : "I've often wondered myself about 'hard yards'.

: : A complete guess is that it comes from sailing ship days. Setting or taking in sails from the wooden cross-pieces, called 'yards', was arduous and
: : dangerous work - the more so the higher up a mast a particular yard might be. So to work on one of these might have become known as 'doing the hard yards'."

: yardarm
: \Yard"arm`\, n. (Naut.) Either half of a square-rigged vessel's yard, from the center or mast to the end.

: Note: Ships are said to be yardarm and yardarm when so near as to touch, or interlock yards.

: Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.

: yardarm
: n : either end of the yard of a square-rigged ship

: Source: WordNet ® 1.6, © 1997 Princeton University

"A lot has been written about South Africa's ability to do the hard yards and England's lack of appetite to do them, so victory for both teams is essential to either cement or dispel perceptions."... Perhaps it refers to a sporting origin of when the "going gets tough."
In football and rugby the 'hard yards' are those that are the most difficult to gain in order to advance the ball or score the point. In running, the 'hard yards' were those at the end of a long distance run when a runner hits 'the wall,'but struggles on to finish the race.