What does "die hard" phrase mean? Is it hard to kill? I have always been curious about its meaning. This movie title has been translated as 'Deadly Trap' in Czechia.

  • 2
    You may read about the origin of the expression "die hard" here: phrases.org.uk/meanings/die-hard.html - "to 'die hard' was to die reluctantly, resisting to the end. This meaning of the term was recorded in 1703, in Psychologia: or, an Account of the Nature of the Rational Soul.".
    – user5267
    Sep 26, 2016 at 19:21

1 Answer 1


"Die hard" as a verb or "diehard" a noun have the following idiomatic meanings and usages:

Die hard:

  • If a belief or way of behaving dies hard, it takes a long time to disappear, and is not given up easily:

    • Old habits die hard.


  • someone who is unwilling to change or give up their ideas or ways of behaving, even when there are good reasons to do so:
    • a diehard conservative/fan

(Cambridge Dictionary)

The title of the famous movie refers both to the "toughness" of the main character and to the fact that he was "hard to kill"; from The Phrase Finder:

  • The title of the 1988 film Die Hard was chosen to signify both the 'hardness', that is, toughness, of the lead character and the difficulty that he and the bad guys had in killing each other. In choosing not to hyphenate 'die-hard', which is the currently accepted spelling, they reverted to the original meaning of the term - to 'die hard' was to die reluctantly, resisting to the end.
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    This is correct. The movie title is a play on both of these meanings, implying that the protagonist John McClane is both "hard to kill" and "really, really stubborn".
    – Andrew
    Sep 26, 2016 at 19:25
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    That makes sense now it's explained, but I have never made sense of the title before! I didn't even think of the noun "diehard", because I stress the title differently (because I parse it as a verb phrase). But the verb phrase "die hard" only exists for me in the transferred sense of "Old habits die hard". So it's always been a nearly meaningless title to me.
    – Colin Fine
    Sep 26, 2016 at 23:19
  • @ColinFine The term was used to mean "does not die easily" at least since 1967 when the DieHard battery brand was introduced at Sears
    – JimmyJames
    Sep 27, 2016 at 13:22
  • Also with a quick search on Wikipedia the phrase was used in the "not die easily" sense as far back as 1811
    – JimmyJames
    Sep 27, 2016 at 13:31

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