[lit-ideas] Re: Sunday Wotsit

  • From: Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 06 Sep 2009 16:43:58 -0700

David Ritchie:

I'm as hard nosed as whatever animal is it that has a hard nose and inspired the metaphor, (what on earth would that be exactly...hard-headed is easy...some misinterpretation of the rhino perhaps? and why is it that the hardness of a nose has come to be a measure of anything? boxing possibly?)

The only hard-nosed animal mentioned in the OED's account is a dog with a poor sense of smell. How we get from there to stubborness is left unclear.

1889 Cent. Dict., *Hard-nosed, in hunting, having little or no sense of smell: said of dogs. 1927 Hollis St. Theatre Prog. (Boston) 19 Sept. Gloss., Hard nosed, stubborn. 1949 Penguin New Writing XXXVIII. 49 And there there is a lock, too, with the saint who welched three times in charge of the keys, who can be trusted not to be too hard-nosed. 1965 Economist 3 Apr. 27/2 Washington has got pretty ?hard-nosed? about criticism of its Congo policy. 1971 New Society 7 Jan. 26/1 A whole host of prophetic ravers and hard-nosed technocrats. 1973 Times 8 Feb. 23/2 Dolly's hard-nosed business approach to publishers probably did not have universal support.
Robert Paul

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