"stubborn," 1927, from hard (adj.) + nose (n.). Earlier of bullets or shells with hard tips, and of dogs that had difficulty following a scent. Not in common use before 1950s, when it begins to be applied to tough or relentless characters generally (Damon Runyon characters, U.S. Marines, Princeton professors, etc.). Soft-nosed seems to have been used only of bullets.
1. When life gets hard and you want to give up, remember that life is full of ups and downs, and without the downs, the ups would mean nothing.
2. Talent, hard work and sheer tenacity are all crucial to career success.
3. The federal government hiked the tax on hard liquor.
4. People are having to think hard about their holiday plans.
5. Many parents find it hard to discourage bad behaviour.