A “diehard” is a person who strongly opposes change or continues to support something in spite of opposition. Such a person may hold stubbornly to a minority view, in defiance of the circumstances. Some synonyms: hard-core, traditionalist, steadfast, inflexible, uncompromising, unyielding, indomitable, rigid, set in one’s ways.
While the word typically refers to someone with a strong dedication to a particular set of beliefs, the term “diehard” originally had a much more literal meaning, which was to “die hard,” to die reluctantly, resisting to the end.
In its earliest incarnation in the 1700s, the expression described condemned men who struggled the longest when they were executed by hanging. There are records showing that some of those who were about to be hanged opted to hurry things up, and paid people to hang onto their legs so that they died quickly.
The phrase became even more popular after the 1811 Battle of Albuera during the Napoleonic Wars. In the midst of the fight, a wounded British officer named William Inglis supposedly urged his unit forward by bellowing “Stand your ground and die hard … make the enemy pay dear for each of us!” Inglis’ 57th Regiment suffered 75 percent casualties during the battle, and went on to earn the nickname “the Die Hards.”
In the early 1900s, “die-hard” was more usually used to describe a member of the political faction who were prepared to “die in the last ditch” in their resistance to the Home Rule Bill of 1912.
My use of the term is much simpler and, of course, has to do with food. I’m a diehard chocolate ice cream eater. Come what may, I need my hit of chocolate ice cream every night before I go to bed. I guess you could say I’m set in my ways. And happily so.