Paul started rehearsals with the band at 7 as he had a hard out at 8.15.

To leave fast?
1 2
It's not a standard expression.

Slang comes and goes very quickly.
It sounds like it means 'he definitely had to leave no later than 8.15.
EyeSeeYoua hard out at 8.15
An appointment at 8:15 that he absolutely cannot miss.

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It's commonly used here in the states with assistants or people who manage a schedule. I will say my boss has a hard out at 2pm meaning the call or meeting must end at or before 2.
I, a speaker of BrE, have never come across this expression before.
fivejedjonI, a speaker of BrE, have never come across this expression before.
And I've never heard it on this side of the pond, either.
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It's also tv news jargon. I direct local television news in Virginia, USA. "Hard out' refers to the time in the news telecast you cannot push past because there's something else coming on TV past that.

TV news is produced in blocks of time. So the first block is the A block and it's followed by a commercial break, then there's the B block which is followed by more commercials, etc. You are supposed to hit the end of each block at a certain time but it's not set in stone, because you can theoretically make up time later in the program. But the end of the show has a specific time that you MUST hit, because another show starts right after, and it can't be pushed back.

So you might say "The 6 p.m. newscast has a hard out of 18:28:25." This is because there's a show that begins at 18:30:00 and your 6 p.m. newscast has a commercial/advertisement "end break" that lasts 1 minute 35 seconds. If you end later than 18:28:25 you will clip the start of the show following yours.

It IS a standard expression in some professions. I work in business theater and sometimes we let presenters go over their allotted time onstage. However if the CEO has to leave for a flight at Noon then we may give them a hard out at 11:45 on the countdown clock onstage.

Very common. Also, see the television news reference below. Its a very similar circumstance.

In New Zealand, the term/slang "hard out" means to agree. It has more emphasis than just saying "yes"

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