a hardened criminal/detective, etc.

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Senior Member
a hardened criminal/detective, etc.

someone who has had a lot of bad experiences and as a result does not get upset or shocked
source: Cambridge Advance Learners' Dictionary.

Could someone illustrate 'a hardened criminal' for me? I don't understand the definition in my dictionary.

  • Bevj

    Allegra Moderata (Sp/Eng, Cat)
    English (U.K.)
    I would say 'a hardened criminal' is one who is so used to a life of crime that is has become normal to him and does not affect him from an emotional or moral standpoint.

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I agree, Rover. I would tend to think of detectives more as being "hard-boiled" (which I would define as meaning inured to unpleasantness, horror or extreme difficulty) than "hardened". Hardened tends to express a negative trait, and particularly co-locates with "criminal". The OED gives:
    "Rendered unfeeling or callous; hard-hearted; obdurately settled or determined in a course." I suppose the latter definition is not necessarily negative, but I would say that is the least likely meaning.

    Examples given include "hardened sinner" and "hardened grumbler".
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