As hard as nails

“I knew she was stupid and I thought she was scheming. My own belief was that she was as hard as nails.”–THE ESCAPE by W. Somerset Maugham
What sort of things do you associate the expression “as hard as nails” with?
Does the “nail” symbolize stubbornness or pitilessness, or what?

I’ve heard and read this expression with different meanings: very tough, enduring, stubborn, completely callous, heartless, unfeeling.
I think S. Maughem uses it with the meaning ‘hard-hearted, cruel’.

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“be as hard as nails”

to have no feelings or sympathy for other people".

I guess the deinition says it all.

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Although men are usually described as stupid creatures, sometimes I feel that W. Somerset Maugham is not sympathetic towards the women in his novels either.

Your message is OFF TOPIC. Could you delete your message as soon as possible? You don’t need to inform us of your Skype ID in this thread about an expression used by W. Somerset Maugham. You might want to start a new thread for yourself. I wish you success in learning foreign languages.

A subject, or test or experience could of been “as hard as nails”, such as maths, a maths test, or your experience of learning maths. All of which you could refer to as… “as hard as nails”.

Conversational eg - "Learning English wasn’t easy mate, was (as) hard as nails.

A lot of the time you can hardly hear the “as” in this type of sentence.

Another way it’s used, is to describe someone’s physical or emotional strength, or “fight”. John smith/he/she is/they’re “as hard as nails”.

Conversational eg - Julies been through a lot in her life. Tough as nails, that girl.

Sometimes “hard” is replaced with some other synonym. In this case tough.

The nail, is associated with being hard, long lasting, sharp, dangerous. You might also hear the expression, “As hard as a coffin nail” its the same, the nail in the coffin lasts years etc. Rusts but never really degrades, or be it before the coffin itself.

Its a phrase I hear more in London than other places in the UK. I think its a “cockney” thing. I’ve never heard it in the way Nex_us’s link describes. In my younger days, this was a common phrase :slight_smile:

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I think that people who are in charge of website design tend to be as hard as nails. They are sometimes engaged in frivolous designs and are self-complacent. I always champion the minimalist style of website design.

Doesn’t sound like he is sympathetic to women. This saying might have a more negative meaning when talking about a woman because women are supposed to be forgiving and kind.

Ill admit I’m not sure about the use of the expression in that sentence. I think another phrase or descriptive word would suit it better. Its usage is difficult to explain but In general, think of using it for a situation that is overtly difficult, or a person who is emotionally or physically tough. However, sometimes another word or phrase may well suit the sentence better :slight_smile: I think as you see and hear it more, you’ll see how it fits into each context, with what I’ve said in mind.

I tried to stop this thread from disappearing forever from the list on the Active Threads page.

I have noticed that you can only read the latest 25 threads under the title “Active Threads”.