Are "close" and "hard" the same below?
He took a close look at the cat.
He took a hard look at the cat.
Or are they subtly different? For this particular usage, web dictionaries appear to define "close" with "hard" and "hard" with "close".
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They do not mean the same thing. The distinction is more than subtle.
Furthermore, while some dictionaries do show the two phrases as nearly interchangeable,
It's one of those phrases to emphasise the fact that someone's had a good look at the cat "Close'(rhyming with dose) in this sense is used to mean 'close up' to the cat. "hard' means you looked at it for a long time, trying to see every detail.