Idiom: A Hard Nut to Crack

A frustrated squirrel with his arms folded across his chest is sadly looking at a walnut that is closed shut to illustrate the idiom, a hard nut to crack.

A hard nut to crack (idiom)

Look at the picture and try to guess the meaning of the idiom 'a hard nut to crack.'   

A hard nut to crack: 

(1) a problem or situation that's difficult to solve or deal with;

(2) a person who is difficult to understand or know;

(3) a group, place or opportunity that's difficult to join or gain entry.

Sentence examples

  • This algebra equation sure is a hard nut to crack.
  • Congratulations on restoring your antique car—I'll bet that was a hard nut to crack. 
  • Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a hard nut to crack.
  • Jennifer is a hard nut to crack. One day she's friendly and the next she's super quiet, so I'm not sure if she likes me or not.
  • My new secretary is a hard nut to crack.  I'm not sure if she's unhappy here, just a shy person or if she's bored.
  • A number of women have become leaders in business but the majority still find getting upper management positions a hard nut to crack.
  • We've had a lot of success with our retail stores but we're finding that selling our product online is a hard nut to crack.
  • With your skills, getting a tennis scholarship to a university is possible but the professional tour will be a hard nut for you to crack.
  • Getting a membership into that country is a hard nut to crack for minorities so don't be surprised if your application is not approved.


  • a tough nut to crack
  • a tough/hard row to hoe

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