tough·​en | \ˈtə-fən \
toughened; toughening\ˈtə-​fə-​niŋ, ˈtəf-​niŋ \

Definition of toughen 

intransitive verb

: to become tough

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Synonyms & Antonyms for toughen


fortify, harden, indurate, inure, season, steel, strengthen



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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

Vote Vets ads tout Baldwin’s work since the Tomah scandal to toughen opioid prescription guidelines. Fredreka Schouten, USA TODAY, "Exclusive: Secret money funds more than 40% of outside congressional ads," 12 July 2018 With Republicans now controlling both Houses, the big initial Farm Bill controversy has been over the GOP’s desire (lashed along by the Trump administration) to toughen SNAP’s already significant work requirements. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Farm Bill Defeated in House Over Food Stamp and Immigration Issues," 18 May 2018 The announcement comes as the U.S. under President Donald Trump shifts is toughening its stance on Iran's support for Syrian President Bashar Assad's government, which has weathered a calamitous civil war. Fox News, "Iran says it signed deal to rebuild Syria's military," 27 Aug. 2018 The response has been to toughen immigration policies aimed at reducing the number of incoming people, rather than at addressing integration issues for the migrants who have already arrived. Valentina Pop, WSJ, "Europe Moves in Parallel to U.S. to Manage Immigration," 30 June 2018 The realities of the job toughen you, says Quinones. Skye Parrott, Marie Claire, "What It's Like to Be a Female Border Patrol Agent," 5 Dec. 2017 Bautista-Mayorga's situation reflected two recent changes in the government's toughening stance on detaining and removing unlawful immigrants. Matt Campbell, kansascity, "ICE agent accused of assaulting lawyer while deporting Honduran mom with 3-year-old," 26 June 2018 Nearly eight years after Congress dramatically toughened banking regulations after the financial crisis, the Senate took a rare bipartisan step and voted Wednesday to ease some rules on small and midsize banks. Jim Puzzanghera,, "In rare bipartisan vote, Senate eases some post-financial crisis bank regulations," 14 Mar. 2018 The pick places a political novice at the forefront as Italy prepares to toughen its stance on migration and push back against the European Union. Stefano Pitrelli And Chico Harlan,, "A political novice is on the verge of becoming Italy's prime minister," 21 May 2018

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

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First Known Use of toughen

1582, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

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Statistics for toughen

Last Updated

10 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for toughen

The first known use of toughen was in 1582

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English Language Learners Definition of toughen

: to make (something) stricter or to become stricter

: to make (someone) physically or emotionally stronger or to become physically or emotionally stronger


tough·​en | \ˈtə-fən \
toughened; toughening

Kids Definition of toughen

: to make or become tough Going barefoot toughened my feet.

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More from Merriam-Webster on toughen

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with toughen

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for toughen

Spanish Central: Translation of toughen

Nglish: Translation of toughen for Spanish Speakers

Comments on toughen

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to enclose within walls

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