My understanding of the word 'chill' is that it is a mix of a 'state of mind' and also denonates a relaxed pace.

A synonym is "easy-going", that can mean not worrying about the future, not being sensible to any sort of pressure and also being friendly with others.

Assuming that 'working hard' can be done efficiently in a widespread range of industries planning and performing tasks in a very clever way, I don't see any reason for the two being incompatible.

Are these two concepts contradictory ?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Drew, Nigel J, Phil Sweet, user240918, Skooba Jan 11 '18 at 13:43

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  • "Chill" means "keep your cool". This is possible even when (literally) working up a sweat. Of course, if you figuratively work up a sweat about something then you've lost your cool. – Hot Licks Jan 8 '18 at 23:27
  • An example of using chill out with working hard to give an impression of a clash: complex.com/life/2017/02/… – Dennis R Hidalgo Jan 9 '18 at 0:06

It's certainly possible in a literal sense if the work is not physical.

I would tend to call periods of productive, concentrated work "being in the zone", not "chilling out while working hard"; that's at least mixing metaphors, if not literally contradictory.

The slang meanings of chill stem from it's literal definition of cooling. Etymology online traces "chill out" meaning "relax" to 1979 (without a citation) and "chill" as "hang out" to 1985. Even if you use "chill" as meaning "an easy-going state of mind", it will not be separated from its connotations of calm/relaxed.

"Hard work" and "working hard" have connotations of an exertion of effort and producing results at a rapid pace, beyond pure concentration. As for your proposed interpretation of "working efficiently and performing tasks in a clever way", most English speakers would identify this with the idiom "work smarter, not harder".


The confusion arises because the phrase work hard is overused so much it has little meaning. Everyone works hard in their opinion. In this way what does anyone mean they work hard? Do you mean work one works hard as a plantation slave in the 1800s? Not many people advertise their like is too easy that anyone could do it the same way. Not many people who work go to management and talk about not having much work to do. To bosses you always say you have a lot of work and you don't get paid to sit back and chill. If you were born into billions of dollars you still would not rub in you do nothing for a living as it is offensive to less fortunate people. Give people the side eye using they work hard phrase unless they work on a plantation. The terms are not contradictory because other options are possible which means everything is not laid back or hard working. There are states in between the two you ask about. If there were no middle ground then you would be close to correct.

  • Key: "The terms are not contradictory." Even if the terms might have been overused, there areas where they both could overlap. – Dennis R Hidalgo Jan 9 '18 at 0:09
  • If they overlap they are not literally meaningful. The phrases are embellishments only. – Logikal Jan 9 '18 at 0:14
  • "Areas where they both could overlap" does not mean that they overlap fully. In fact, I was just rephrasing what you were saying: "states in between the two." – Dennis R Hidalgo Jan 9 '18 at 0:16
  • "Everyone works hard in their opinion." this is not true. There are many people that do not work hard and know they don't work hard. They make no attempt to work hard. – JeffC Jan 9 '18 at 4:55
  • @ Jeff C, yes I know many people lie which was my point. The people who don't work hard will still say they work hard to others. Perhaps they will come clean to you or a sibling they refuse to work hard. Most people will not get a mega phone and announce to the world they are lazy or their goal is to get over on otherr people for a living. The expression does not make the claim true because someone utters it. My answer expresses 95% or more probably literally don't work hard at all and they know it. Hence why the phrase means nothing when everyone does the same line. – Logikal Jan 9 '18 at 12:02

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