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

Definition of toughen

intransitive verb

: to become tough

Keep scrolling for more

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 pact updates trading rules in the continent to address 21st-century technology, safeguard environmental and labor standards in Mexico and toughen requirements for auto-industry trade among the three countries. William Mauldin, WSJ, "Senate Passes USMCA, New North American Trade Pact," 16 Jan. 2020 Considering that most turkeys need to be roasted for hours, drying and toughening the meat, brining is a smart idea. The Editors, Field & Stream, "Three Great Ways to Brine a Turkey," 10 Jan. 2020 The proposal would toughen the state's current ban on texting while driving that officials have said has proven to be unenforceable and doesn't include actions such as emailing, using apps such as Snapchat or viewing videos. Tom Davies, Indianapolis Star, "Proposed Indiana ban on drivers using handheld phones advances," 22 Jan. 2020 Ohio State had a 10-game cakewalk and the schedule finally toughened up. Doug Lesmerises, cleveland, "With both the Cleveland Browns and Ohio State Buckeyes, the schedule threw us off," 25 Nov. 2019 There has been much talk lately about its impact on the environment, and state lawmakers toughened regulations on the industry last session making public health and safety a top priority when considering new drilling permits. The Denver Post, "Post Premium: Our best stories for the week of Nov. 4 – 10," 10 Nov. 2019 The steaks toughened up and the corn charred when one of the owners of the new taproom at nearby North Brewing Co. stopped by with a couple of cans of a crisp, a new grapefruit-bitter shandy. Melissa Buote, Bon Appétit, "Where the Waves Are Fast and the Food Is Slow," 7 Nov. 2019 The schedule toughens up after that, with Penn State, Iowa and Wisconsin making up three of the Gophers’ final four opponents. Bob Sansevere, Twin Cities, "Bob Sansevere: Gophers’ run game allows QB Tanner Morgan to survive an off day," 5 Oct. 2019 Connecticut toughened its state standard slightly by adding in three more types of PFAS compounds. Gregory B. Hladky,, "New England experts: PFAS pollution is extraordinarily widespread and causing increasing concern," 25 Sep. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of toughen

1582, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Keep scrolling for more

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

Statistics for toughen

Last Updated

19 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Toughen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for toughen


How to pronounce toughen (audio)

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.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on toughen

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for toughen

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with toughen

Spanish Central: Translation of toughen

Nglish: Translation of toughen for Spanish Speakers

Comments on toughen

What made you want to look up toughen? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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