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

Definition of toughen

intransitive verb

: to become tough

Synonyms & Antonyms for toughen



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 The bill was signed after Ducey announced his partnership with 25 other GOP governors with the American Governors' Border Strike Force, meant to toughen security at the border. Javier Arce, The Arizona Republic, 13 May 2022 Meanwhile, Western governments prepared Wednesday to toughen sanctions against Russia and send more weapons to Ukraine. Julia Musto, Fox News, 6 Apr. 2022 DeWine also renewed calls for lawmakers to pass measures prohibiting distracted driving and to toughen penalties for felons who use guns to commit violent crimes. Jeremy Pelzer, cleveland, 24 Mar. 2022 Your daughter had to toughen up to stand up to her brother, and now your youngest son is taking the brunt of the aggression. Washington Post, 10 Mar. 2022 Part of what has helped toughen resolve among European leaders like Scholz, as well as France’s Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, was their realization of how blatantly Putin lied about his intentions in Ukraine. Eli Stokols, Los Angeles Times, 27 Feb. 2022 In his State of the Union address, Biden called on Congress to pass legislation to toughen regulations for social media. Brian Fung, CNN, 2 Mar. 2022 Lamin recently introduced a bill in parliament that would toughen requirements for sand mining permits. Peter Yeung, Los Angeles Times, 7 Feb. 2022 The wisest way to deal with the crunch on the border is to toughen enforcement while also giving economic migrants more ways to enter and work here legally. Jason L. Riley, WSJ, 1 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of toughen

1582, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Learn More About toughen

Time Traveler for toughen

Time Traveler

The first known use of toughen was in 1582

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near toughen

tough cookie


toughened glass

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for toughen

Last Updated

22 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Toughen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for toughen


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

Kids Definition of toughen

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

More from Merriam-Webster on toughen

Nglish: Translation of toughen for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Food

  • a-light
  • Name these cookies!
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!