Top 34 Slang For Hard Times – Meaning & Usage

Life can throw some tough situations our way, leaving us feeling overwhelmed and lost for words. But fear not, as we’ve got your back with a list of slang terms that perfectly capture those hard times. From moments of struggle to times of resilience, this list will not only help you navigate through those tough moments but also add a touch of humor and understanding to them. So sit back, relax, and dive into this list to discover the perfect words to express those challenging moments we all face.

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1. Rough patch

This phrase refers to a challenging or difficult period in someone’s life. It often implies temporary hardship or a setback that a person is going through.

  • For example, “I’m going through a rough patch right now with my job search.”
  • A friend might say, “Don’t worry, everyone goes through rough patches in life.”
  • Someone might share, “I had a rough patch in my relationship, but we worked through it and came out stronger.”

2. Tough break

This expression is used to describe an unfortunate or unlucky situation that someone has experienced. It often conveys sympathy or understanding for the person’s difficult circumstances.

  • For instance, “Losing your job right before the holidays is a tough break.”
  • A friend might say, “That’s a tough break, but I believe in your ability to bounce back.”
  • Someone might share, “I had a tough break when my car broke down on my way to an important meeting.”

3. Rock bottom

This phrase refers to the lowest point or the most difficult stage in someone’s life or a particular situation. It signifies a state of extreme hardship or despair.

  • For example, “After losing everything, he hit rock bottom and had to rebuild his life.”
  • A person might say, “I thought I had hit rock bottom, but things eventually started looking up.”
  • Someone might share, “Hitting rock bottom was a wake-up call that motivated me to make positive changes.”

4. Struggle street

This colloquial phrase is used to describe a situation or period of time when someone is facing significant challenges or difficulties. It implies a constant struggle or hardship.

  • For instance, “Ever since I lost my job, I’ve been living on struggle street.”
  • A friend might say, “I know you’re going through a tough time on struggle street, but don’t give up.”
  • Someone might share, “I’m tired of living on struggle street. I’m determined to find a way out.”

5. Down and out

This expression describes a person who is in a state of extreme poverty, despair, or hardship. It conveys a sense of being completely worn out and defeated.

  • For example, “After losing his job and home, he was down and out.”
  • A person might say, “I hit rock bottom and felt completely down and out, but I found the strength to rebuild.”
  • Someone might share, “I’ve been down and out before, but I always manage to bounce back.”

6. Tight spot

This term refers to being in a challenging or difficult situation.

  • For example, “I’m in a tight spot financially and don’t know how to make ends meet.”
  • A person might say, “I found myself in a tight spot when my car broke down and I had no money to fix it.”
  • Another might say, “I’m in a tight spot at work because my deadline is approaching and I haven’t finished the project yet.”

7. Biting the bullet

This phrase means to confront a challenging or unpleasant situation with bravery or resolve.

  • For instance, “I have to bite the bullet and tell my boss that I made a mistake.”
  • Someone might say, “I knew I had to bite the bullet and apologize even though it was hard.”
  • Another might say, “He’s biting the bullet by going to rehab and facing his addiction head-on.”

8. Between a rock and a hard place

This expression describes being in a situation where there are no good options and one must choose between two equally challenging or undesirable outcomes.

  • For example, “I’m between a rock and a hard place because I have to choose between paying my rent or buying food.”
  • A person might say, “She’s between a rock and a hard place because she has to decide between taking a lower-paying job or staying unemployed.”
  • Another might say, “We’re between a rock and a hard place with this decision because both options have serious drawbacks.”

9. Hitting the skids

This phrase means to experience a period of decline or failure, often in one’s personal or professional life.

  • For instance, “After losing his job, he hit the skids and struggled to find work.”
  • Someone might say, “She hit the skids after her relationship ended and she fell into a deep depression.”
  • Another might say, “The company hit the skids when their main product became outdated and sales dropped significantly.”

10. Going through the wringer

This expression means to go through a period of intense stress, hardship, or difficulty.

  • For example, “After the accident, she went through the wringer with physical therapy and rehabilitation.”
  • A person might say, “I’ve been going through the wringer with this project deadline hanging over my head.”
  • Another might say, “He went through the wringer during his divorce and custody battle.”

11. In dire straits

This phrase is used to describe being in a state of extreme difficulty or hardship.

  • For example, “After losing his job and his home, he found himself in dire straits.”
  • A person facing financial troubles might say, “I’m in dire straits and don’t know how I’ll make ends meet.”
  • Someone dealing with a serious illness might express, “My health has deteriorated, and I’m in dire straits.”

12. Hard times

This phrase is a general term used to describe challenging or tough circumstances.

  • For instance, “During the Great Depression, many people experienced hard times.”
  • A person going through a breakup might say, “I’m going through hard times right now, but I’ll get through it.”
  • Someone facing multiple challenges might express, “These hard times have tested my resilience, but I won’t give up.”

13. Strapped for cash

This phrase is used to convey a lack of financial resources or being low on funds.

  • For example, “I can’t go out tonight, I’m strapped for cash.”
  • A person unable to afford a desired purchase might say, “I’m strapped for cash, so I can’t buy that new gadget.”
  • Someone discussing their financial situation might admit, “I’ve been strapped for cash lately and need to find a way to make more money.”

14. Suffering setback

This phrase is used to describe facing obstacles or setbacks that hinder progress or success.

  • For instance, “After months of hard work, he suffered a setback in his career.”
  • A person dealing with a failed project might say, “I’m suffering a setback, but I won’t let it discourage me.”
  • Someone facing a health issue might express, “I’ve had a setback in my recovery, but I’m determined to get back on track.”

15. Under the weather

This phrase is used to describe a state of being slightly ill or not feeling one’s best.

  • For example, “I won’t be able to make it to the party tonight, I’m feeling under the weather.”
  • A person with a mild cold might say, “I’m just a little under the weather, but I’ll still go to work.”
  • Someone not feeling their usual self might express, “I’ve been feeling under the weather for the past few days and need to rest.”

16. Tough times

This phrase is used to describe a period of hardship or adversity. It can refer to various challenges, such as financial struggles, personal setbacks, or emotional difficulties.

  • For example, “I lost my job and now I’m going through tough times.”
  • A person might say, “We’re all going through tough times right now with the pandemic.”
  • Someone experiencing relationship problems might say, “My partner and I are going through some tough times.”

17. Hitting a rough patch

This slang phrase is used to describe a temporary period of difficulty or struggle in one’s life. It can refer to various aspects, such as relationships, work, or personal circumstances.

  • For instance, “I’m hitting a rough patch at work and feeling overwhelmed.”
  • A person might say, “We’re hitting a rough patch in our marriage and trying to work through it.”
  • Someone experiencing financial difficulties might say, “I’m hitting a rough patch with my finances and trying to find a way out.”

18. In the doldrums

This slang phrase is used to describe a state of feeling low, down, or depressed. It can refer to a lack of motivation, energy, or enthusiasm for life.

  • For example, “I’ve been in the doldrums lately and struggling to find joy.”
  • A person might say, “I’m feeling stuck in the doldrums and can’t seem to shake it off.”
  • Someone experiencing a loss might say, “I’m in the doldrums after the death of a loved one.”

19. In a slump

This slang phrase is used to describe a temporary period of decline, lack of productivity, or lack of success in one’s life or endeavors.

  • For instance, “I’m in a slump with my writing and can’t seem to find inspiration.”
  • A person might say, “I’m in a slump at work and struggling to meet my targets.”
  • Someone experiencing a lack of motivation might say, “I’m in a slump and finding it hard to get things done.”

20. Pinching pennies

This slang phrase is used to describe the act of being thrifty, frugal, or saving money in order to make ends meet or to budget effectively.

  • For example, “I’m pinching pennies to save up for a vacation.”
  • A person might say, “We’re pinching pennies during this tough financial period.”
  • Someone discussing budgeting might say, “Pinching pennies is a great way to achieve financial stability.”

21. Living hand to mouth

This phrase describes a situation where someone is barely able to afford the necessities of life, such as food, shelter, and clothing. It implies a lack of financial stability and the constant struggle to make ends meet.

  • For example, “Ever since I lost my job, I’ve been living hand to mouth, just barely able to pay my bills.”
  • A person discussing their financial situation might say, “I’ve been living hand to mouth for years, never able to save any money.”
  • In a conversation about poverty, someone might comment, “Many families in this country are living hand to mouth, unable to break the cycle of poverty.”

22. Barely scraping by

This phrase conveys the idea of barely managing to get by with very little. It suggests a lack of financial security and the constant struggle to meet one’s basic needs.

  • For instance, “After paying all my bills, I’m barely scraping by until my next paycheck.”
  • A person discussing their financial situation might say, “I’ve been barely scraping by for months, relying on food banks and assistance programs.”
  • In a conversation about financial hardships, someone might comment, “Many people in this city are barely scraping by, unable to afford decent housing or healthcare.”

23. Feeling the pinch

This phrase describes the feeling of being under financial stress or pressure. It implies a decrease in income or an increase in expenses, leading to a tighter budget and the need to cut back on spending.

  • For example, “Ever since the rent increase, I’ve really been feeling the pinch.”
  • A person discussing their financial situation might say, “With the rising cost of living, many families are feeling the pinch and struggling to make ends meet.”
  • In a conversation about economic downturn, someone might comment, “During a recession, everyone feels the pinch as businesses struggle and jobs become scarce.”

24. Down on your luck

This phrase describes a state of being unlucky or unfortunate. It suggests that someone is going through a difficult time or experiencing a series of unfortunate events.

  • For instance, “Ever since I lost my job, I’ve been down on my luck, unable to find another one.”
  • A person discussing their circumstances might say, “I’ve been down on my luck lately, with one setback after another.”
  • In a conversation about personal struggles, someone might comment, “We all go through periods of being down on our luck, but it’s important to keep pushing forward.”

25. In a financial bind

This phrase describes a situation where someone is facing financial difficulties or constraints. It implies being in a tight spot financially and having limited options or resources.

  • For example, “I’m in a financial bind right now, unable to pay my bills on time.”
  • A person discussing their financial situation might say, “After the unexpected medical expenses, I found myself in a financial bind.”
  • In a conversation about money management, someone might comment, “It’s important to have an emergency fund to help you out when you’re in a financial bind.”

26. In dire need

This phrase is used to describe a situation where someone is in a critical or urgent need of something.

  • For example, “I am in dire need of money to pay my bills.”
  • Another example can be, “The community is in dire need of clean drinking water.”
  • A person might say, “I am in dire need of a job to support my family.”

27. In dire circumstances

This phrase is used to describe a situation where someone is facing extreme difficulties or hardships.

  • For instance, “They are in dire circumstances after losing their home in a fire.”
  • Another example can be, “The company is in dire circumstances and may have to lay off employees.”
  • A person might say, “I found myself in dire circumstances after a series of unfortunate events.”

28. In a jam

This phrase is used to describe a situation where someone is in a difficult or challenging position and needs help or a solution.

  • For example, “I locked my keys in the car and now I’m in a jam.”
  • Another example can be, “The team is in a jam and needs to come up with a winning strategy.”
  • A person might say, “I’m in a jam and need someone to lend me some money.”

29. In a fix

This phrase is used to describe a situation where someone is in a difficult or troublesome position and needs assistance or a resolution.

  • For instance, “I forgot my passport and now I’m in a fix.”
  • Another example can be, “The company is in a fix after losing a major client.”
  • A person might say, “I’m in a fix and need help figuring out how to fix my car.”

30. In a tight corner

This phrase is used to describe being in a challenging or difficult situation where there are limited options or resources available.

  • For example, “I lost my job and now I’m in a tight corner financially.”
  • A person might say, “I’m in a tight corner with my landlord because I can’t afford the rent.”
  • Someone facing a tough decision might say, “I’m in a tight corner and I don’t know what to do.”

31. In deep water

This phrase is used to describe being in trouble or facing difficulties that are hard to overcome.

  • For instance, “He got caught cheating on the exam and now he’s in deep water with the professor.”
  • A person might say, “I’m in deep water with my boss because I missed an important deadline.”
  • Someone facing legal issues might say, “I’m in deep water with the law and I need a good lawyer.”

32. Bumpy road

This phrase is used to describe a difficult or challenging journey, often metaphorically referring to a period of time with many obstacles or setbacks.

  • For example, “Starting a new business can be a bumpy road.”
  • A person might say, “Our relationship has been a bumpy road, but we’re working through it.”
  • Someone facing personal challenges might say, “Life has been a bumpy road lately, but I’m staying positive.”

33. Hardship

This term refers to difficult or challenging circumstances, often involving financial, emotional, or physical struggles.

  • For instance, “Many people experience hardships during times of economic recession.”
  • A person might say, “She has faced a lot of hardships in her life, but she remains resilient.”
  • Someone discussing social issues might say, “We need to address the hardships faced by marginalized communities.”

34. Going through a rough patch

This phrase is used to describe a period of time when someone is facing difficulties or challenges in their life.

  • For example, “They’re going through a rough patch in their relationship right now.”
  • A person might say, “I’m going through a rough patch at work and feeling overwhelmed.”
  • Someone facing personal struggles might say, “I’m going through a rough patch in my mental health, but I’m seeking help.”
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