Idiom: A Hard Nut to Crack or a Tough Nut to Crack

a hard nut to crack

a tough nut to crack

Meaning:

A difficult problem to solve

A person who cannot be easily understood

A person who cannot be dealt with easily

A person cannot be won over easily

A thing that is difficult to understand

A challenging problem

A difficult situation

Origin:

This phrase has been in use since the 1700s when people used to buy nuts that were not cracked out of the shells. They used hands to crack these nuts. At times, some nuts were too tough to crack. Later on, the phrase came to be used for a complicated person or situation.

Examples:

I have been training this dog for a month, but I still can’t teach him to sit on command. He is indeed a hard nut to crack.

Competitive exams are a tough nut to crack.

Your boss is a tough nut to crack. No matter how hard you work, you can never please him.

This math problem is a tough nut to crack.

Try to rewrite these sentences using the phrase ‘a hard/tough nut to crack.’

I am sure our website will be a success in our area but abroad is difficult.

Climbing Everest will be difficult.

Why are you so moody? Yesterday you were in a good mood, but today you are angry.

I cannot understand why he is unable to perform? If it is because he is stressed, unhappy or a skill issue.

With your experience and knowledge, it won’t be a big task to find your dream job.

Antonym of ‘a hard/tough nut to crack:

A piece of cake

A piece of cake

Examples:

Clearing this interview is not a piece of cake.

Clearing this interview is a tough nut to crack.

Study hard, and the exams will be a piece of cake.

Study hard, and the exams won’t be a hard nut to crack.

Now, try replacing ‘a piece of cake’ with ‘a hard nut to crack’ in the below sentences.

For John, cooking is a piece of cake.

With a poor practice, winning the competition will not be a piece of cake for you.

He thinks that if he buys an expensive camera, clicking good pictures will be a piece of cake. But, he will soon learn that it’s not the camera that makes a good photographer.

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