I used the phrase die-hard and for a moment couldn’t remember the spelling – die or dye? I know the difference ordinarily – dye to colour something, die meaning to expire, and die the singular of dice… But die-hard? Dye hard?
Die hard was in use in the late eighteenth century, when it was to do with dying; gruesomely this was not a natural death but death by hanging which could be tortuous, dying hard was part of the punishment. This grim phrase was then famously used by Lieutenant General Sir William Inglis his men of the 57th Regiment of Foot of the British Army – it was during the Peninsular War and as he lay severely wounded, he urged his men on, to die hard! in the Battle of Albuera. This became their motto and gradually began to be applied to anyone who would stick to their guns – although not literally, unlike the 57th Foot!
When I was exploring the origin of the phrase, I kept being directed to the 1988 film of the same name starring Bruce Willis. I’ve never seen the film and didn’t know until I was researching the phrase that it was based on a 1979 novel by Roderick Thorp, Nothing Lasts Forever…. I’ve not read that either. Four films followed the first, Die Hard 2, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Live Free or Die Hard and A Good Day to Die Hard, released in 1990, 1995, 2007 and 2013.
Here’s a more detailed article about ‘die hard’, the origin and meaning:
I can’t find any featured images to fit this story, so I have a photo I took in Spain on the Iberian Peninsular.