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Learning the hard way

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Learning the hard way refers to learning by making mistakes through trial and error.[1] The idiomatic expression refers to learning from bad, difficult or unpleasant experiences.[2]


"The Saturday Evening Post said charitably that perhaps every President had to learn the hard way. (Truman might have added that that was about the only way he had ever learned anything in his life.)" -- David McCullough, Truman.[3]

See also[edit]

  • List of English-language idioms
  • School of Hard Knocks


  1. Ammer, Christine. (1997). The American Heritage dictionary of idioms. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-395-72774-4 Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png. p. 284.
  2. Olson, Elaine. (2005). Stedman's Guide to Idioms: Know the Lingo. Baltimore, Maryland: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. ISBN 978-0-7817-5746-1 Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png.; OCLC 57123885 p. 66.
  3. McCullough, David. (2003). Truman. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7432-6029-9 Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png.. p. 589.

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