1

tough

play
adjective \ ˈtəf \

Definition of tough

1 :difficult to accomplish, resolve, endure, or deal with
  • a tough question
  • tough luck
2 :capable of enduring strain, hardship, or severe labor
  • tough soldiers
3 :unruly, rowdyish
  • a tough gang
4 a :strong or firm in texture but flexible and not brittle
b :not easily chewed
  • tough meat
5 :characterized by severity or uncompromising determination
  • tough laws
  • tough discipline
6 :very hard to influence :stubborn
  • a tough negotiator
7 :stubbornly fought
  • a tough contest
8 :marked by absence of softness or sentimentality
  • a tough critic

toughly

adverb

toughness

noun

Examples of tough in a Sentence

  1. I have a tough constitution, and my profession taught me how to compete against long odds and big obstacles. —Lance ArmstrongIt's Not About The Bike(2000) 2001
  2. … Pelletreau had firsthand experience in dealing with Israelis as well as with Arabs and had a reputation for being bold, analytical, and tough as nails. —Robert D. KaplanThe Arabists1993
  3. … this wiry, tough, frenetic Algerian with the beneficent smile, who could vault over the bar and stiff-arm a drunk out into the night in less time than it takes to say Edgar Poe, and return, bland as butter, to take up where he left off … —William Styron"The Paris Review," August 1953, in William Styron, This Quiet Dust And Other Writings(1953) 1982
  4. He had on the other hand to preserve his own reputation as a tough D.A. who dealt handily with the criminal classes. —E. L. DoctorowRagtime(1974) 1975
  5. She had a tough time in college.

  6. Are you tough enough for the job?

  7. He's been hanging around with a bunch of tough guys.

  8. The rug is made of tough material.

Recent Examples of tough from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tough.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of tough

Middle English, from Old English tōh; akin to Old High German zāhi tough

tough Synonyms

Synonyms
chewy, leathery
Antonyms
tender
Related Words
fibrous, gristly, sinewy, stringy; brittle, crunchy, hard; cardboardy
Near Antonyms
mushy, soft

Synonym Discussion of tough

strong, stout, sturdy, stalwart, tough, tenacious mean showing power to resist or to endure. strong may imply power derived from muscular vigor, large size, structural soundness, intellectual or spiritual resources.
    • strong arms
    • the defense has a strong case
stout suggests an ability to endure stress, pain, or hard use without giving way.
    • stout hiking boots
sturdy implies strength derived from vigorous growth, determination of spirit, solidity of construction.
    • a sturdy table
    • people of sturdy independence
stalwart suggests an unshakable dependability.
    • stalwart environmentalists
tough implies great firmness and resiliency.
    • a tough political opponent
tenacious suggests strength in seizing, retaining, clinging to, or holding together.
    • tenacious farmers clinging to an age-old way of life

2

tough

play
adverb \ ˈtəf \

Definition of tough

:in a tough manner (see 1tough)
  • talking tough

Examples of tough in a Sentence

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

Recent Examples of tough from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tough.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of tough

see 1tough


3

tough

play
noun \ ˈtəf \

Definition of tough

:a tough and violent person :rowdy

Examples of tough in a Sentence

  1. One night, after antagonizing a gang of older toughs, he had his face smashed in with a hockey stick. —John HarrisRolling Stone14 Nov. 2002
  2. They weren't strong enough to fight Sankoh and his hopped-up young toughs, who number in the thousands. —Tom Masland et al.Newsweek15 May 2000
  3. The subways provided fine service, except that lately there had been a problem. Packs of young toughs had taken to roaming the cars. —Tom WolfHarper'sNovember 1989
  4. didn't want her son hanging out with the neighborhood toughs

Recent Examples of tough from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tough.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of tough

see 1tough


4

tough

play
verb \ ˈtəf \

Definition of tough

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

Examples of tough in a Sentence

  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 TrebayVillage Voice30 July 1991
  2. … they were toughing it out with the help of the greatest ally a macho young cop ever had, booze. —Joseph WambaughLines and Shadows1984

Recent Examples of tough from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tough.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of tough

see 1tough


TOUGH Defined for English Language Learners

tough

play
adjective

Definition of tough for English Language Learners

  • : 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


tough

play
adverb

Definition of tough for English Language Learners

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


tough

play
noun

Definition of tough for English Language Learners

  • : a tough and violent person


TOUGH Defined for Kids

tough

play
adjective \ ˈtəf \

Definition of tough for Students

tougher; toughest
1 :strong or firm but flexible and not brittle
  • tough fibers
  • tough leather
2 :not easily chewed
  • tough meat
3 :physically or emotionally strong enough to put up with strain or hardship
4 :very strict, firm, or determined
  • a tough coach
  • tough rules
5 :very difficult to do or deal with
  • We've had some tough times.
  • The math test was tough.
6 :lawless 2
  • a tough neighborhood

toughness

noun


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