Top 35 Slang For Hardships – Meaning & Usage

Life can throw some curveballs that leave us feeling like we’re in a tough spot. But fear not, as we’ve got your back with a list of slang terms that perfectly capture those moments of struggle and resilience. From everyday challenges to major setbacks, this compilation will have you nodding in agreement and maybe even laughing at the relatability. So buckle up and get ready to navigate through the highs and lows with a touch of humor and understanding.

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1. Struggle bus

This term is used to describe a period of time or situation in which someone is facing multiple challenges or difficulties. It implies that the person is on a metaphorical “bus” that is constantly struggling to move forward.

  • For example, “I’ve been on the struggle bus lately with work deadlines and personal issues.”
  • A friend might ask, “Are you still on the struggle bus with your finances?”
  • Someone might say, “I can’t seem to catch a break. I’m always on the struggle bus.”

2. Rough patch

This phrase refers to a period of time in which someone is facing challenges or difficulties. It suggests that the person is going through a rough or tough period in their life.

  • For instance, “I’m going through a rough patch in my relationship right now.”
  • A person might say, “I’ve hit a rough patch at work. Everything seems to be going wrong.”
  • Someone might share, “Life has its ups and downs, and right now I’m definitely in a rough patch.”

3. Tough break

This expression is used to describe a situation in which someone experiences bad luck or an unfortunate event. It implies that the person has had a tough or difficult break.

  • For example, “Losing my job was a tough break, especially during a pandemic.”
  • A friend might sympathize, “I heard about your car accident. That’s a tough break.”
  • Someone might say, “Life can be tough sometimes, but you just have to keep pushing through those tough breaks.”

4. Hitting rock bottom

This phrase is used to describe a situation in which someone has reached the lowest point in their life or a particular situation. It suggests that the person has hit rock bottom and things can only improve from there.

  • For instance, “After losing everything, I hit rock bottom and had to rebuild my life.”
  • A person might share, “I hit rock bottom with my addiction, but it was the wake-up call I needed.”
  • Someone might say, “Hitting rock bottom can be a turning point for personal growth and change.”

5. Going through the wringer

This expression is used to describe a situation in which someone is going through a period of intense difficulty or hardship. It suggests that the person is being metaphorically squeezed or put through a wringer.

  • For example, “I’ve been going through the wringer with my health issues lately.”
  • A friend might ask, “How are you holding up? I know you’re going through the wringer right now.”
  • Someone might share, “Life has a way of putting us through the wringer, but it also makes us stronger.”

6. Up against it

This slang phrase is used to describe being in a tough spot or facing a difficult situation.

  • For example, “I lost my job and now I’m really up against it trying to pay my bills.”
  • In a sports context, someone might say, “Our team is up against it in the championship game.”
  • Another example could be, “She’s up against it with her demanding work schedule and family responsibilities.”

7. Between a rock and a hard place

This idiom is used to describe being in a situation where there are no good choices and one must choose between two equally undesirable options.

  • For instance, “I’m between a rock and a hard place because I need to choose between paying my rent or buying groceries.”
  • In a business context, someone might say, “The company is between a rock and a hard place because they can either lay off employees or go bankrupt.”
  • Another example could be, “He’s between a rock and a hard place with his parents pressuring him to choose a career path he doesn’t want.”

8. Battling uphill

This phrase is used to describe the act of facing and overcoming challenges or obstacles that seem insurmountable.

  • For example, “She’s been battling uphill to get her business off the ground in a competitive market.”
  • In a personal context, someone might say, “I feel like I’m constantly battling uphill to improve my mental health.”
  • Another example could be, “The team is battling uphill to make a comeback in the game after being down by a large margin.”

9. In the trenches

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

  • For instance, “I’ve been in the trenches trying to meet a tight deadline for this project.”
  • In a military context, someone might say, “The soldiers were in the trenches, fighting bravely during the war.”
  • Another example could be, “She’s in the trenches of parenthood, dealing with sleepless nights and constant diaper changes.”

10. Swimming upstream

This phrase is used to describe the act of facing resistance or going against the norm or prevailing opinion.

  • For example, “As a female CEO in a male-dominated industry, she’s constantly swimming upstream to prove herself.”
  • In an environmental context, someone might say, “Conservationists are swimming upstream to protect endangered species from extinction.”
  • Another example could be, “He’s swimming upstream by advocating for unpopular political reforms.”

11. Grinding it out

This phrase is often used to describe the act of working hard and persevering despite facing challenges or hardships.

  • For example, a person might say, “I’ve been grinding it out at work all week to meet the deadline.”
  • In a sports context, a coach might encourage their team by saying, “Keep grinding it out, we can still win this game.”
  • A student preparing for exams might say, “I’m exhausted, but I have to keep grinding it out to get good grades.”

12. Hard knock life

This phrase is used to describe a life that is filled with hardships or tough experiences.

  • For instance, a person might say, “I grew up in a rough neighborhood, it was a hard knock life.”
  • In a song lyric, the artist Jay-Z famously raps, “It’s the hard knock life, for us.”
  • Someone reflecting on their past might say, “I’ve faced many obstacles in my life, it’s been a hard knock life.”

13. Battling adversity

This phrase is used to describe the act of facing and overcoming difficulties or obstacles.

  • For example, a motivational speaker might say, “We must never give up when battling adversity.”
  • In a sports context, a coach might say to their players, “We’re facing a tough opponent, but we’re capable of battling adversity and coming out on top.”
  • A person discussing their personal struggles might say, “I’ve been battling adversity my whole life, but it has made me stronger.”

14. In a bind

This phrase is used to describe being in a tough spot or facing a problem with limited options.

  • For instance, a person might say, “I’m in a bind because I have two conflicting appointments at the same time.”
  • If someone is running late for a meeting, they might say, “I’m sorry, I was in a bind and couldn’t make it on time.”
  • A student who forgot to bring their assignment might say, “I’m really in a bind now, I don’t know what to do.”

15. Struggling street

This phrase is used to describe a life filled with hardships or obstacles.

  • For example, a person might say, “I come from a struggling street, but I’m determined to create a better future.”
  • In a discussion about social inequality, someone might say, “Many people living on struggling streets face systemic barriers.”
  • A journalist reporting on poverty might write, “Residents of the struggling street are facing high unemployment rates and limited access to resources.”

16. Under the gun

This phrase is often used to describe being in a high-stress or urgent situation.

  • For example, “I have a deadline tomorrow and I’m really under the gun.”
  • In a discussion about work stress, someone might say, “I often feel like I’m under the gun to meet unrealistic expectations.”
  • A person facing a difficult decision might say, “I’m really under the gun to make a choice before the deadline.”

17. Caught in a jam

This phrase is used to describe being in a tight spot or facing a problem.

  • For instance, “I’m caught in a jam with my car broken down and no phone.”
  • In a conversation about unexpected obstacles, someone might say, “I was caught in a jam when my computer crashed right before the presentation.”
  • A person discussing financial troubles might say, “I’m caught in a jam with mounting bills and no job.”

18. In hot water

This phrase is used to describe being in a difficult or dangerous situation, often as a result of one’s actions.

  • For example, “I’m in hot water with my boss for missing the deadline.”
  • In a discussion about breaking rules, someone might say, “If you get caught, you’ll be in hot water with the authorities.”
  • A person facing the consequences of their actions might say, “I knew I was in hot water as soon as I saw the disappointed look on their face.”

19. In the thick of it

This phrase is used to describe being in the middle of a challenging or intense situation.

  • For instance, “I’m in the thick of it with multiple projects and tight deadlines.”
  • In a conversation about a chaotic event, someone might say, “I was in the thick of it when the crowd started pushing and shoving.”
  • A person discussing a demanding job might say, “Being in the thick of it is just part of the job in this industry.”

20. Strapped for cash

This phrase is used to describe a situation where someone has a lack of money or is facing financial challenges.

  • For example, “I’m really strapped for cash this month and can’t afford any extra expenses.”
  • In a discussion about budgeting, someone might say, “Being strapped for cash can be stressful, but there are ways to manage your finances.”
  • A person discussing the economy might say, “Many people are currently strapped for cash due to the economic downturn.”

21. Running on empty

This phrase is used to describe a person who is completely out of energy, resources, or motivation. It can refer to physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion.

  • For example, “After working three consecutive night shifts, I feel like I’m running on empty.”
  • A student might say, “I stayed up all night studying for the exam, so now I’m running on empty.”
  • A person going through a difficult time might express, “I’ve been dealing with so much lately, and I feel like I’m running on empty.”

22. In dire straits

This phrase is used to describe a situation where someone is facing severe problems, hardships, or crises. It implies that the person is in a desperate or vulnerable position.

  • For instance, “After losing his job and getting evicted, he found himself in dire straits.”
  • A business owner might say, “If we don’t secure funding soon, we’ll be in dire straits.”
  • Someone experiencing financial difficulties might express, “I’ve been struggling to make ends meet, and I’m in dire straits right now.”

23. Hanging by a thread

This phrase is used to describe a person who is in a very delicate or risky situation, where any small event or mistake could lead to a disastrous outcome.

  • For example, “After the accident, his life was hanging by a thread.”
  • A person facing a potential job loss might say, “I feel like my career is hanging by a thread.”
  • Someone dealing with a failing relationship might express, “Our marriage is hanging by a thread, and I don’t know if we can fix it.”

24. In the lion’s den

This phrase is used to describe a person who is in a place or situation where they are surrounded by powerful, influential, or hostile individuals who pose a threat or challenge.

  • For instance, “The young politician found himself in the lion’s den when he had to address a room full of experienced politicians.”
  • A person attending a high-pressure meeting might say, “I’m going into the lion’s den today.”
  • Someone facing a difficult negotiation might express, “I’m about to enter the lion’s den, but I’m prepared.”

25. Walking on thin ice

This phrase is used to describe a person who is in a situation where they are treading carefully or cautiously, as any wrong move could have serious consequences.

  • For example, “After his controversial statement, he felt like he was walking on thin ice.”
  • A person who is on probation might say, “I have to be careful with my actions because I’m walking on thin ice.”
  • Someone in a delicate relationship might express, “We’re walking on thin ice right now, and one wrong move could break us apart.”

26. In the hot seat

This phrase is used to describe a situation where someone is being closely watched or facing a difficult challenge.

  • For example, “The CEO was in the hot seat during the press conference, facing tough questions from reporters.”
  • A student might say, “I was in the hot seat when the teacher asked me a question I didn’t know the answer to.”
  • In a sports context, a coach might say, “Our team is in the hot seat as we approach the playoffs.”

27. In the thick of things

This expression is used to describe being deeply involved in the middle of a situation or activity.

  • For instance, “I’m right in the thick of things at work, trying to meet a tight deadline.”
  • A person involved in a heated argument might say, “I jumped right into the thick of things and started defending my point.”
  • In a chaotic situation, someone might comment, “It’s hard to stay calm when you’re in the thick of things.”

28. In the weeds

This phrase is often used to describe being overwhelmed or stuck in a difficult situation.

  • For example, “I’m really in the weeds with this project. There’s so much to do and not enough time.”
  • A restaurant worker might say, “We were in the weeds during the dinner rush, struggling to keep up with orders.”
  • In a personal context, someone might say, “I feel like I’m in the weeds with my finances, trying to make ends meet.”

29. In a tight spot

This expression is used to describe being in a tough or challenging situation with limited options.

  • For instance, “I’m in a tight spot financially and don’t know how I’ll pay my bills.”
  • A person facing a deadline might say, “I’m in a tight spot with this project. I need more time.”
  • In a sports context, a player might comment, “We’re in a tight spot with only a few seconds left on the clock.”

30. In a world of trouble

This phrase is used to describe being in a situation where there are serious problems or difficulties.

  • For example, “After crashing his car, he was in a world of trouble with the insurance company.”
  • A person dealing with multiple issues might say, “I’m in a world of trouble right now. Everything seems to be going wrong.”
  • In a legal context, someone might comment, “If he gets caught, he’ll be in a world of trouble with the authorities.”

31. In deep water

This phrase is often used to describe being in trouble or facing a problem that is hard to solve.

  • For example, “After losing my job, I found myself in deep water trying to pay my bills.”
  • In a discussion about a difficult project, someone might say, “We’re in deep water with this one, but I think we can figure it out.”
  • A person recounting a challenging experience might say, “I was in deep water when my car broke down in the middle of nowhere.”

32. In dire need

This phrase is used to describe a situation where something is desperately needed or urgently required.

  • For instance, “After the hurricane, the survivors were in dire need of food and water.”
  • In a conversation about a medical emergency, someone might say, “The patient is in dire need of immediate attention.”
  • A person discussing a financial crisis might say, “Many families are in dire need of financial assistance during these tough times.”

33. In the doghouse

This phrase is used to describe being in a state of disfavor or facing consequences for one’s actions.

  • For example, “After forgetting their anniversary, he found himself in the doghouse with his wife.”
  • In a discussion about a mistake at work, someone might say, “I’m definitely in the doghouse with my boss after that blunder.”
  • A person recounting a situation where they disappointed a friend might say, “I’m still in the doghouse for canceling our plans last minute.”

34. Bumpy road

This phrase is used to describe a journey or experience that is filled with obstacles or difficulties.

  • For instance, “Starting a business can be a bumpy road, but it’s worth it in the end.”
  • In a conversation about a relationship, someone might say, “We’ve had our ups and downs, but it’s been a bumpy road.”
  • A person discussing their career might say, “I’ve faced many challenges along the way, but it’s been a bumpy road to success.”

35. Hitting a wall

This phrase is used to describe a situation where progress or forward motion is halted or blocked.

  • For example, “I’ve been trying to come up with a solution, but I keep hitting a wall.”
  • In a discussion about a creative project, someone might say, “I hit a wall and couldn’t find any inspiration.”
  • A person recounting a difficult period in their life might say, “I hit a wall and didn’t know how to move forward.”
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