also tough cheese
- bad luck, tough luck
- a difficult, unpleasant or adverse situation
- said to indicate lack of sympathy for someone’s adverse situation
- The construction workers have a tough time out there, working continuously in the sweltering heat. It’s really hard cheese for them.
- He’s complaining because he has to read and correct all the documents manually, is he? Well, hard cheese; he’ll have to keep doing that. That’s what he is paid for.
- If you do not like the food served at the mess, hard cheese. That’s the only food you are going to get out there.
- He keeps failing in the qualifying rounds, doesn’t he? Well, hard cheese, but he will have to work harder if he wants to progress further.
- It’s hard cheese for the employees of that company. The haven’t been paid their salary for months, the company is on the verge of shutting down, and no one else wants to take them.
This phrase is of British origin and was used since the early 19th century. The literal meaning of hard cheese refers to old, stale and indigestible cheese, which is obviously unpleasant. So the idiomatic expression derives from this as an allusion to undesirable events. The expression is not very popular now.