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

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 The Texas State Rifle Association PAC firmly opposes that and touts a history of beating back attempts to toughen background checks on gun show purchases. Jeremy Wallace, Houston Chronicle, "Gun control debate becomes neighborly affair at Texas Democratic Convention," 22 June 2018 The Fed’s toughened stress tests, whose results were announced Thursday, forced six U.S. banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co. to scale back proposals for doling out more cash to shareholders. Bloomberg,, "Wells Fargo plans $24.5 billion in stock buybacks after passing Fed stress test," 28 June 2018 That free trade pact between a dozen – now 11 — Asia-Pacific nations contained strong IP protection, and the Obama administration was also separately negotiating toughened IP protocols with the European Union. Time, "Beneath the Glitz of a Ford Automobile Launch in China, Fears of a Trade War Remain," 12 Apr. 2018 It’s time for America to toughen up, stop whining, and get to work. Hal Boedeker,, "Eric Bolling brings new show to Daytona Beach," 2 July 2018 President Donald Trump, in withdrawing threats to impose new restrictions on Chinese investment, instead put his faith Wednesday in Congress, which is advancing its own legislation to toughen national security reviews of foreign deals. Kate O’keeffe, WSJ, "Trump Bets on Legislation to Tighten Reviews of Chinese Deals," 27 June 2018 According to Reuters, a source familiar with the internal debate at the White House said one option under discussion was giving Europe more time to toughen the terms of the current Iran deal. Wael Mahdi, Houston Chronicle, "OPEC seeks last minute compromise as Iran opposes supply boost," 22 June 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

15 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for toughen

The first known use of toughen was in 1582

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More Definitions for toughen



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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