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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for toughen



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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 Climate experts hope Xi will watch what the U.S. and China's neighbors pledge and toughen its own emissions goals in following months. Ellen Knickmeyer And Christina Larson, Star Tribune, "Biden pushes for momentum as US returns to climate fight," 21 Apr. 2021 In February 2021, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) introduced legislation that would toughen the standard for evaluating mergers (preventing many out of hand, based on the size of the acquiring firm). Alden Abbott, National Review, "Antitrust Should Stay Focused on Consumer Welfare," 2 Apr. 2021 Fearful patients will get help, not comments to toughen up. Editorial Board, Star Tribune, "Our Best Shot: Needle phobia? There's help available to deal with fear.," 10 Apr. 2021 The most significant opposition came from Family Council President Jerry Cox, who cast hate-crimes laws as ineffectual after decades of pressure to toughen penalties on the state and federal level. John Moritz, Arkansas Online, "Hate-crimes legislation advances to full Senate," 6 Apr. 2021 France's justice minister said Thursday the government will soon present new legal measures to better protect children, while a draft bill has started being debated at parliament to toughen laws on the rape of minors under 13. Sylvie Corbet, Star Tribune, "French victims of child abuse speak out in new #MeToo wave," 21 Jan. 2021 Be careful about the water temperature—if the water is too hot, fish could curl, meat could toughen, and eggs could scramble. Sarah Jampel, Bon Appétit, "What's the Difference Between Steaming, Boiling, Blanching, and Poaching?," 16 Mar. 2021 Still, the party wants to toughen migration policies for foreign students and reduce net immigration by twentyfold. New York Times, "Can France’s Far Right Rise to Power? One Mayor Shows How.," 13 Mar. 2021 Still, the party wants to toughen migration policies for foreign students and reduce net immigration by twentyfold., "France’s emboldened far right attracts voters it once horrified," 13 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for toughen

Time Traveler

The first known use of toughen was in 1582

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Statistics for toughen

Last Updated

28 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Toughen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 May. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce toughen (audio) \
toughened; toughening

Kids Definition of toughen

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

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