Hard lines

Origin of: Hard lines

Hard lines

Old-fashioned British expression for hard or bad luck dates from the early 19th century but the origin of the ‘lines’ part is obscure. The OED ventures that it is probably of nautical origin with lines referring to ropes, many of which were difficult or hard to handle during bad weather in the days of sail but then hedges its bets by adding that there may be an association with lines meaning one’s lot in life. The source for the latter is the Bible, Psalms 16:6, “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places.” With the OED opting for either a nautical or a biblical origin, there are few other sources available.