adjective \ˈtəf\

: very difficult to do or deal with

: physically and emotionally strong : able to do hard work, to deal with harsh conditions, etc.

: physically strong and violent

Full Definition of TOUGH

a :  strong or firm in texture but flexible and not brittle
b :  not easily chewed <tough meat>
:  characterized by severity or uncompromising determination <tough laws> <tough discipline>
:  capable of enduring strain, hardship, or severe labor <tough soldiers>
:  very hard to influence :  stubborn <a tough negotiator>
:  difficult to accomplish, resolve, endure, or deal with <a tough question> <tough luck>
:  stubbornly fought <a tough contest>
:  unruly, rowdyish <a tough gang>
:  marked by absence of softness or sentimentality <a tough critic>
tough·ly adverb
tough·ness noun

Examples of TOUGH

  1. She had a tough time in college.
  2. Are you tough enough for the job?
  3. He's been hanging around with a bunch of tough guys.
  4. The rug is made of tough material.
  5. I have a tough constitution, and my profession taught me how to compete against long odds and big obstacles. —Lance Armstrong, It's Not About The Bike, (2000) 2001

Origin of TOUGH

Middle English, from Old English tōh; akin to Old High German zāhi tough
First Known Use: before 12th century

Related to TOUGH

chewy, leathery
See Synonym Discussion at strong


adverb \ˈtəf\

: in a way that shows that you are strong or tough

Full Definition of TOUGH

:  in a tough manner (see 1tough) <talking tough>

Examples of TOUGH

  1. He talks tough but he's not really dangerous.

Origin of TOUGH

(see 1tough)
First Known Use: 14th century


noun \ˈtəf\

: a tough and violent person

Full Definition of TOUGH

:  a tough and violent person :  rowdy

Examples of TOUGH

  1. <didn't want her son hanging out with the neighborhood toughs>
  2. One night, after antagonizing a gang of older toughs, he had his face smashed in with a hockey stick. —John Harris, Rolling Stone, 14 Nov. 2002

Origin of TOUGH

(see 1tough)
First Known Use: 1801


transitive verb \ˈtəf\

Definition of TOUGH

:  to bear unflinchingly :  endure —usually used with out especially in the phrase tough it out

Examples of TOUGH

  1. Summer in New York is coasting the dairy aisle at Safeway. … It's finding the spot in a subway car where the vent blows strongest and staying there past your stop, toughing it out when the excuse me, ladies and gentlemen hard-luck stories blow through. —Guy Trebay, Village Voice, 30 July 1991

Origin of TOUGH

(see 1tough)
First Known Use: 1830


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