tough·​en ˈtə-fən How to pronounce toughen (audio)
toughened; toughening ˈtə-fə-niŋ How to pronounce toughen (audio)

intransitive verb

: to become tough

Examples of toughen in a Sentence

The government is toughening antidrug laws. weight lifting will help toughen those flabby muscles of yours
Recent Examples on the Web Treason is punishable by up to life in prison under legislation toughened since the start of the military offensive. CBS News, 21 Feb. 2024 Stephen Kavanagh, the British candidate, has played a key role in toughening the red-notice system in his current role as Mr. Stock’s No. 2. Jane Bradley, New York Times, 20 Feb. 2024 Deutsche Bank is the latest company to make the news for toughening its work-from-home policies, but these headlines are becoming the norm versus the exception. Lindsay Kohler, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2024 Biden has relied heavily on parole powers as the basis for his broader strategy to expand opportunities for migrants to reach the United States lawfully while toughening penalties against those who cross illegally. Washington Post, 11 Feb. 2024 In 2020, voters rejected Proposition 20, a ballot measure that would have rolled back Proposition 47 by toughening some criminal sentences. Anabel Sosa, Los Angeles Times, 9 Feb. 2024 For months, congressional Republicans have tied up President Biden’s request for supplemental Ukraine aid in a battle over spending and toughening security measures at the southern border. Howard Lafranchi, The Christian Science Monitor, 30 Jan. 2024 Top notes of sweet Turkish rose and Moroccan rose are toughened up with patchouli, amber, vetiver, leather, and musk, creating an intoxicating scent reminiscent of a midnight garden party. Ariana Yaptangco, Glamour, 24 Jan. 2024 His skin toughened against the acidic pulp that the plant spat when cleaved. Tucker Harris, Washington Post, 23 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'toughen.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1582, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of toughen was in 1582

Dictionary Entries Near toughen

Cite this Entry

“Toughen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


tough·​en ˈtəf-ən How to pronounce toughen (audio)
toughened; toughening ˈtəf-(ə-)niŋ How to pronounce toughen (audio)
: to make or become tough

More from Merriam-Webster on toughen

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