Top 48 Slang For Hardship – Meaning & Usage

Life can throw us curveballs, leaving us feeling like we’re in a tough spot. But fear not, because we’ve got your back with a curated list of slang terms for hardship that will not only help you navigate through tough times but also add some flair to your vocabulary. Stay tuned to discover how language can be a powerful tool in expressing and overcoming the challenges life throws your way.

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1. Struggle bus

This slang term refers to being in a state of hardship or facing challenges. It implies that someone is having a tough time or experiencing various difficulties.

  • For example, “I’ve been on the struggle bus lately with work deadlines and personal issues.”
  • A person might say, “I missed my flight and had to take the struggle bus to get to my destination.”
  • Another might complain, “Life has put me on the struggle bus, and I can’t seem to catch a break.”

2. Tough break

This phrase is used to describe a situation where someone experiences bad luck or an unfortunate turn of events. It signifies that someone has encountered a setback or disappointment.

  • For instance, “Losing the competition was a tough break for him.”
  • A person might say, “It’s a tough break that I got sick right before my vacation.”
  • Another might comment, “Life can sometimes deal you a tough break, but you have to keep pushing forward.”

3. Rough patch

This slang term refers to a period of time characterized by challenges, struggles, or hardships. It indicates that someone is going through a tough phase or facing various difficulties.

  • For example, “I’m going through a rough patch in my relationship right now.”
  • A person might say, “After losing my job, I went through a rough patch financially.”
  • Another might share, “Everyone experiences rough patches in life, but they make us stronger in the end.”

4. Hard times

This phrase is used to describe a period marked by difficulties, struggles, or adversity. It signifies that someone is going through a tough phase or facing hardships.

  • For instance, “During the recession, many people experienced hard times.”
  • A person might say, “I’ve had my fair share of hard times, but I always manage to bounce back.”
  • Another might comment, “When life throws you hard times, you have to stay strong and persevere.”

5. Bumpy road

This slang term refers to a journey or path that is filled with obstacles, challenges, or difficulties. It implies that someone is facing a rough or unpredictable journey.

  • For example, “Starting a business can be a bumpy road, but it’s worth the effort.”
  • A person might say, “My relationship has had its fair share of ups and downs, but we’re navigating the bumpy road.”
  • Another might share, “Life is a bumpy road, but it’s the challenges that make the journey meaningful.”

6. Up against it

This phrase is often used to describe being in a tough spot or dealing with a challenging circumstance.

  • For example, “I lost my job and now I’m up against it trying to pay my bills.”
  • In a sports context, a team might be up against it if they are facing a strong opponent and have several injured players.
  • Someone might say, “I have a deadline tomorrow and I’m up against it trying to finish this project.”

7. Going through the wringer

This phrase is used to describe going through a tough time or dealing with a challenging situation that takes a toll physically or emotionally.

  • For instance, “After the accident, she went through the wringer trying to recover.”
  • A person might say, “I’ve been going through the wringer with my divorce proceedings.”
  • In a work context, someone might say, “This week has been tough, I feel like I’ve been through the wringer.”

8. Between a rock and a hard place

This phrase is used to describe being in a tough predicament where there are no favorable options or outcomes.

  • For example, “I’m between a rock and a hard place because I have to choose between two job offers.”
  • In a personal context, someone might say, “I’m between a rock and a hard place trying to support my family and go back to school.”
  • A person might describe a tough decision as being “caught between a rock and a hard place.”

9. Suffering setback

This phrase is used to describe facing a setback or encountering a hindrance or obstacle that prevents progress or success.

  • For instance, “After months of hard work, he suffered a setback when his business partner backed out.”
  • A person might say, “I’m suffering a setback in my fitness journey due to an injury.”
  • In a project context, someone might say, “We encountered several setbacks during the construction process.”

10. In the trenches

This phrase is often used to describe being deeply involved in a challenging or demanding situation or task.

  • For example, “I’m in the trenches trying to meet this deadline.”
  • In a military context, someone might say, “The soldiers were in the trenches for weeks during the battle.”
  • A person might describe a demanding job as being “in the trenches.”

11. Struggling street

This phrase is used to describe a challenging or tough situation that someone is facing. It implies that the person is experiencing hardship or difficulty in their life.

  • For example, “After losing his job, he found himself in a struggling street.”
  • A person might say, “I’ve been in a struggling street lately, trying to make ends meet.”
  • Another might comment, “Life can throw you into a struggling street when you least expect it.”

12. Battling adversity

This phrase refers to the act of actively fighting against or overcoming difficult circumstances or challenges. It implies that the person is engaged in a struggle or conflict with the hardships they are facing.

  • For instance, “She has been battling adversity her whole life and never gives up.”
  • A person might say, “I’m ready to face any adversity that comes my way.”
  • Another might comment, “Battling adversity builds resilience and strength.”

13. Weathering the storm

This phrase is used to describe the act of enduring or surviving through difficult or challenging times. It implies that the person is going through a period of hardship but is managing to stay strong and resilient.

  • For example, “Despite the financial difficulties, they are weathering the storm.”
  • A person might say, “We’ve been through tough times before, and we’ll weather this storm too.”
  • Another might comment, “Weathering the storm builds character and teaches valuable lessons.”

14. Enduring hardship

This phrase refers to the act of persisting or continuing to face and overcome difficult circumstances or challenges. It implies that the person is going through a period of hardship but is not giving up.

  • For instance, “She has endured hardship after hardship and still maintains her positive attitude.”
  • A person might say, “Enduring hardship builds resilience and character.”
  • Another might comment, “Enduring hardship can lead to personal growth and self-discovery.”

15. Facing an uphill battle

This phrase is used to describe the act of dealing with a challenging or difficult challenge or situation. It implies that the person is facing an uphill struggle or fight against the obstacles they are encountering.

  • For example, “Starting a new business in this economy is definitely facing an uphill battle.”
  • A person might say, “I know it’s going to be tough, but I’m ready to face this uphill battle.”
  • Another might comment, “Facing an uphill battle requires determination and perseverance.”

16. Strapped for cash

This phrase is used to describe a situation where someone has very little money or is experiencing financial difficulties.

  • For example, “I can’t go out to dinner tonight, I’m strapped for cash.”
  • A friend might say, “I’m strapped for cash this month, so I can’t lend you any money.”
  • A person might post on social media, “Looking for ways to save money because I’m strapped for cash.”

17. In a pickle

This phrase is used to describe being in a tough or challenging situation.

  • For instance, “I locked my keys in the car, and I’m in a pickle.”
  • A person might say, “I need to finish this project by tomorrow, but I’m in a pickle because I’m missing some important information.”
  • A friend might ask, “What are you going to do now that you’re in a pickle?”

18. Walking a tightrope

This phrase is used to describe being in a situation where one must be extremely careful and cautious, as if walking on a tightrope.

  • For example, “Managing a team with conflicting personalities is like walking a tightrope.”
  • A person might say, “I feel like I’m walking a tightrope trying to balance work and personal life.”
  • A friend might ask, “How do you handle walking a tightrope between two different friend groups?”

19. In the thick of it

This phrase is used to describe being deeply involved or fully immersed in a challenging or intense situation.

  • For instance, “During the pandemic, healthcare workers were in the thick of it.”
  • A person might say, “I’m in the thick of it with this project deadline approaching.”
  • A friend might ask, “How are you managing being in the thick of it with all your responsibilities?”

20. Down on your luck

This phrase is used to describe a period of time where someone is experiencing a string of unfortunate events or bad luck.

  • For example, “He lost his job, his car broke down, and his dog ran away. He’s really down on his luck.”
  • A person might say, “I’ve been down on my luck lately, but I’m hoping things will turn around.”
  • A friend might ask, “How do you stay positive when you’re down on your luck?”

21. Taking a beating

This phrase is used to describe someone who is experiencing a lot of hardships or challenges in their life.

  • For example, “After losing his job and going through a divorce, he feels like he’s really taking a beating.”
  • In a conversation about financial struggles, someone might say, “I’ve been taking a beating trying to pay off my student loans.”
  • A person discussing the difficulties of parenting might say, “Raising a teenager can really feel like taking a beating sometimes.”

22. Struggling through adversity

This phrase is used to describe someone who is going through a difficult period in their life and is working hard to overcome it.

  • For instance, “Despite all the obstacles, she’s determined to keep struggling through adversity.”
  • In a discussion about personal growth, someone might say, “Struggling through adversity can lead to incredible strength and resilience.”
  • A person talking about a challenging project might say, “We’ve been struggling through adversity, but we’re not giving up.”

23. In a tight spot

This phrase is used to describe someone who is in a difficult or challenging situation and is having trouble finding a solution.

  • For example, “After losing his job, he found himself in a tight spot financially.”
  • In a conversation about relationship problems, someone might say, “I’m in a tight spot because I love them, but I don’t think we’re right for each other.”
  • A person discussing a difficult decision might say, “I’m in a tight spot because both options have their drawbacks.”

24. Going through a tough time

This phrase is used to describe someone who is currently facing a challenging or difficult period in their life.

  • For instance, “She’s going through a tough time right now, but she’s staying strong.”
  • In a discussion about mental health, someone might say, “Going through a tough time can take a toll on your emotional well-being.”
  • A person talking about a friend’s struggles might say, “I’m here for them while they’re going through a tough time.”

25. Dealing with hardship

This phrase is used to describe someone who is managing or handling difficult or challenging circumstances in their life.

  • For example, “She’s been dealing with hardship for years, but she never gives up.”
  • In a conversation about resilience, someone might say, “Dealing with hardship can build inner strength and character.”
  • A person discussing a challenging situation might say, “I’m dealing with hardship right now, but I’m determined to find a way through it.”

26. Struggling to get by

When someone is struggling to get by, it means they are facing financial hardship and finding it difficult to meet their basic needs.

  • For example, “Ever since I lost my job, I’ve been struggling to get by.”
  • A person might say, “I’m just barely getting by with my current salary.”
  • Someone might share, “I’m tired of struggling to get by paycheck to paycheck.”

27. In a sticky situation

When someone is in a sticky situation, it means they are facing a difficult or problematic situation that is hard to resolve.

  • For instance, “I’m in a sticky situation at work because I made a mistake.”
  • A person might say, “I got caught cheating on a test, and now I’m in a sticky situation.”
  • Someone might share, “I’m in a sticky situation with my landlord because I can’t afford the rent.”

28. Facing challenges

When someone is facing challenges, it means they are dealing with difficult obstacles or problems that require effort and problem-solving skills to overcome.

  • For example, “I’m facing challenges in my new job because the workload is overwhelming.”
  • A person might say, “I’m facing challenges in my relationship because we have different priorities.”
  • Someone might share, “I’m facing challenges in my health because I have a chronic illness.”

29. In a tight corner

When someone is in a tight corner, it means they are in a difficult or uncomfortable situation where they have limited options or resources.

  • For instance, “I’m in a tight corner financially because I have unexpected expenses.”
  • A person might say, “I’m in a tight corner at work because my team is behind schedule.”
  • Someone might share, “I’m in a tight corner in my personal life because I have conflicting responsibilities.”

30. Going through tough times

When someone is going through tough times, it means they are experiencing a period of hardship or difficulty in their life.

  • For example, “I’m going through tough times after the loss of a loved one.”
  • A person might say, “I’m going through tough times financially because I’m unemployed.”
  • Someone might share, “I’m going through tough times in my mental health because of stress and anxiety.”

31. Battling through adversity

This phrase refers to the act of persevering and overcoming difficult circumstances or obstacles in one’s life.

  • For example, “Despite losing his job, he is still battling through adversity and working towards a better future.”
  • In a discussion about personal struggles, someone might say, “I’ve been battling through adversity for years, but I refuse to give up.”
  • A motivational speaker might encourage their audience by saying, “Remember, you have the strength to battle through adversity and come out stronger on the other side.”

32. Going through a hard time

This phrase is used to describe a person who is currently facing various hardships or tough situations in their life.

  • For instance, “She’s been going through a hard time since her divorce.”
  • In a support group, someone might share, “I’m going through a hard time right now, but I know things will get better.”
  • A friend might offer comfort by saying, “I’m here for you if you need anything. I know you’re going through a hard time.”

33. Struggling to cope

This phrase indicates that someone is finding it challenging to handle or manage a particular situation or their own emotions.

  • For example, “After the loss of a loved one, many people find themselves struggling to cope with their grief.”
  • In a therapy session, a client might express, “I’m struggling to cope with the stress of my job.”
  • A parent might say, “I’m struggling to cope with my teenager’s rebellious behavior.”

34. In the firing line

This phrase refers to being in a vulnerable position or facing criticism, blame, or intense pressure from others.

  • For instance, “As the CEO, he’s always in the firing line for any company failures.”
  • In a political debate, a candidate might say, “I’m used to being in the firing line, but I stand by my decisions.”
  • A journalist reporting on a controversial topic might write, “The government’s new policy has put many citizens in the firing line of economic hardship.”

35. In a rough situation

This phrase describes being in a tough or unfavorable situation that may involve hardship, adversity, or uncertainty.

  • For example, “After losing his job and his home, he found himself in a rough situation.”
  • In a conversation about financial struggles, someone might say, “I’m currently in a rough situation and trying to find a way out.”
  • A friend offering support might say, “I’m here for you if you need anything. I know you’re in a rough situation right now.”

36. In a tough situation

This phrase is used to describe being in a challenging or difficult situation.

  • For example, “I’m currently in a tough situation with my finances.”
  • Someone might say, “She’s been in a tough situation ever since she lost her job.”
  • A person discussing a difficult decision might say, “I’m in a tough situation where I have to choose between two job offers.”

37. Struggling to survive

This phrase is used to describe the act of facing extreme hardship and trying to overcome it in order to survive.

  • For instance, “Many people in poverty are struggling to survive.”
  • A person discussing a personal experience might say, “During my time in the wilderness, I was struggling to survive.”
  • Someone might say, “In war-torn regions, people are constantly struggling to survive.”

38. Hard knock life

This phrase is used to describe a life filled with hardships and difficulties.

  • For example, “Growing up in a poor neighborhood, she had a hard knock life.”
  • A person discussing their upbringing might say, “I had a hard knock life, but it made me stronger.”
  • Someone might say, “Life on the streets can be a hard knock life for many homeless individuals.”

39. Hitting rock bottom

This phrase is used to describe a situation where someone has reached the lowest point in their life or a particular aspect of their life.

  • For instance, “After losing everything, he hit rock bottom.”
  • A person discussing addiction recovery might say, “I hit rock bottom before I sought help.”
  • Someone might say, “Hitting rock bottom was a wake-up call for me to turn my life around.”

40. Living hand to mouth

This phrase is used to describe a situation where someone is barely able to cover their basic needs and expenses with their income.

  • For example, “Many low-wage workers are living hand to mouth.”
  • A person discussing financial struggles might say, “Ever since I lost my job, I’ve been living hand to mouth.”
  • Someone might say, “Living hand to mouth is a reality for many people in poverty.”

41. Caught between a rock and a hard place

This phrase refers to being in a situation where you have to make a decision or take action, but all of the available choices are undesirable or challenging. It implies feeling trapped or stuck with no easy way out.

  • For example, “I’m caught between a rock and a hard place. If I quit my job, I won’t have an income, but if I stay, I’ll be miserable.”
  • Someone might say, “I feel like I’m caught between a rock and a hard place. My family needs me, but my job is demanding all my time and energy.”
  • In a discussion about a tough decision, a person might comment, “Sometimes in life, you find yourself caught between a rock and a hard place.”

42. Swimming upstream

This phrase is used to describe the experience of facing obstacles or challenges that make progress difficult. It implies going against the flow or struggling to make headway in a situation where others seem to have an easier time.

  • For instance, “I feel like I’m swimming upstream in this company. No matter how hard I work, I never seem to get recognized.”
  • A person might say, “Life can be tough sometimes. It feels like you’re constantly swimming upstream, trying to make progress.”
  • In a discussion about overcoming adversity, someone might comment, “Swimming upstream can be exhausting, but it builds resilience and character.”

43. Running on fumes

This phrase is used to describe a state of being exhausted or depleted, often due to physical or mental exertion. It implies that one is barely functioning and relying on the last bit of energy or resources.

  • For example, “I’ve been working long hours all week. I’m running on fumes and desperately need a break.”
  • A person might say, “After pulling an all-nighter, I’m running on fumes. I can barely keep my eyes open.”
  • In a discussion about burnout, someone might comment, “When you’re running on fumes, it’s important to prioritize self-care and recharge.”

44. Barely scraping by

This phrase is used to describe a situation where one is barely able to meet their basic needs, such as food, shelter, or financial obligations. It implies living in a state of hardship or poverty.

  • For instance, “Ever since I lost my job, I’ve been barely scraping by. I can’t afford to pay my bills.”
  • Someone might say, “I grew up in a poor neighborhood. Many families were barely scraping by, living paycheck to paycheck.”
  • In a discussion about income inequality, a person might comment, “There are millions of people who are barely scraping by, struggling to make ends meet.”

45. Hanging by a thread

This phrase is used to describe a situation where one is in a very precarious or vulnerable position, with the possibility of something bad happening at any moment. It implies being on the verge of collapse or experiencing extreme difficulty.

  • For example, “After the accident, her life was hanging by a thread. It was touch and go for a while.”
  • A person might say, “I’m hanging by a thread. Everything in my life seems to be falling apart.”
  • In a discussion about a struggling business, someone might comment, “The company is hanging by a thread. It’s on the brink of bankruptcy.”

46. Treading water

This phrase is used to describe a situation where someone is just managing to survive or stay in the same place, without making any progress. It often implies a struggle or difficulty in maintaining stability.

  • For example, a person going through financial difficulties might say, “I’m just treading water until I find a job.”
  • In a conversation about a challenging project, someone might comment, “We’re treading water right now, trying to keep everything under control.”
  • A student overwhelmed with assignments might say, “I feel like I’m constantly treading water, trying to keep up with all the work.”

47. Caught in the crossfire

This expression is used to describe being caught or trapped in the midst of a conflict or disagreement between two or more parties. It often implies being in a difficult or dangerous situation where one is affected by the actions or consequences of others.

  • For instance, during an argument between two friends, another person might say, “I don’t want to get caught in the crossfire, so I’ll stay out of it.”
  • In a discussion about a feud between two rival gangs, someone might comment, “Innocent bystanders often get caught in the crossfire.”
  • A person experiencing tension between their parents might say, “I feel like I’m constantly caught in the crossfire of their arguments.”

48. Riding out the storm

This phrase is used to describe the act of persevering or enduring through a challenging or turbulent period. It often implies a sense of waiting for the situation to improve and maintaining a sense of resilience or patience.

  • For example, during a period of economic recession, someone might say, “We just need to ride out the storm until the economy recovers.”
  • In a conversation about a personal crisis, a friend might offer support by saying, “You’re strong enough to ride out the storm.”
  • A person going through a difficult breakup might say, “I’m just trying to ride out the storm of emotions right now.”
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