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Difference between Hard nut to crack and Hard row to hoe

hard nut to crack—(also: tough nut to crack)

1. a difficult problem or task to undertake:

  • Opinions vary, but the consensus is that the target is a hard nut to crack.

2. a difficult person to deal with:

  • We all know that President Mugabe is not an easy man to bend. He is a hard nut to crack.

Note: The expression does not correlate in meaning with the phrase crack a nut—(UK dated) drink a glass of liquor:

  • When a fresh guest arrived he was met by the laird, who made him “crack a nut,” that is, drink a silver-mounted cocoanut-shell full of claret.

hard row to hoe(also: tough row to hoe) = hard nut to crack 1:

  • Even without money problems, many divorced single parents have a hard row to hoe.

Note: Neither expression correlates in meaning with the phrase hard act to follow—(also: tough act to follow) used of an outstanding individual or a particularly good performance that will be difficult to emulate:

  • The previous night’s incredible jazz session was a hard act to follow.