What does the idiom "drive a hard bargain" mean?

You are wondering about the meaning of the phrase drive a hard bargain, maybe you heard it in a TV show, movie or theater play. Although this idiom is not used very often, it enriches your capacity of expression and strengthens communication. In which case is the expression drive a hard bargain used and what is its meaning?

Meaning of "drive a hard bargain"


The phrase "drive a hard bargain" is a common idiom used in English, and it refers to someone who is unwilling to compromise on terms or conditions. It suggests that the person in question is tenacious and stubborn when it comes to negotiating and striking a deal. It implies that the person is willing to go to great lengths to get exactly what they want, even if it means going against the other party's wishes.


The phrase "drive a hard bargain" has been in use since the early 19th century and likely originated from the phrase "drive a hard bargainer", which was used to describe someone who was difficult to negotiate with. It was probably derived from the concept of driving cattle or horses, or pushing and prodding them along, which eventually became a metaphor for persuading or pushing someone into a deal. This eventually became the phrase "drive a hard bargain."


The phrase "drive a hard bargain" is usually used to describe someone who is stubborn and unwilling to compromise on terms or conditions. It is often used in a positive way, to express admiration for someone who is able to get what they want without compromising their principles. It can also be used in a negative way, however, to criticize someone for being too greedy, or too willing to get what they want without considering the needs of the other party.

Example Sentences

  • "He was so determined to get the best deal that he drove a hard bargain and ended up with a great deal."
  • "She always drives a hard bargain, so I was surprised when she accepted the terms we offered."
  • "He drove such a hard bargain that the other side had no choice but to accept his terms."
  • "He was willing to drive a hard bargain in order to get what he wanted."

The meanings of the words in the "drive a hard bargain" idiom

From Shakespeare to Social Media: The Evolution of English Idioms

English idioms have been around for centuries, with many originating from sources like literature, mythology, and everyday life. Shakespeare, for example, coined many phrases that are still used today, such as "break the ice" and "heart of gold." Over time, new idioms have emerged, with social media and popular culture providing rich sources of inspiration. For instance, the phrase "throwing shade" came into use in the 1990s thanks to ball culture, but has since been popularized by social media.


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