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I met a lot of hard-boiled eggs in my life...


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The phrase 'hard-boiled' itself in respect to human character originates somewhere in the last quarter of the 19th century. It is said to originate from the notion that a hard-boiled egg is tough, or 'hard to beat' as a vaudeville gag would have it (with reservations read Peter Tamony.) The hard-boiled egg as a measure of human character is prefigured by the 'bad egg' which is often said to have its origin in the Samuel Hammett novel Captain Priest (1855.)

https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-etymology-of-the-term-hard-boiled-fiction-detective-etc

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