tough·​ness ˈtəf-nəs How to pronounce toughness (audio)
: the quality or state of being tough: such as
: the quality of being strong and not easily broken, torn, etc.
This combination of strength and ductility makes spider silk extremely tough, matching the toughness of state-of-the-art carbon fibers such as Kevlar.MIT Technology Review
also : the quality of being difficult to cut or chew
… the extreme toughness of the beef … , which rendered it quite unfit … for any human consumption. Charles Dickens
: physical or emotional strength that allows someone to endure strain or hardship
Henin-Hardenne's unshakable mental toughness—she says one of her great joys in life is staving off a break point in a tight match—makes her all the more formidable.L. Jon Wertheim
: the quality of being severe or uncompromising
the toughness of the new sentencing guidelines
his toughness as a negotiator
The Minnesota senator referenced the story during her campaign to showcase her toughness on crime.Summer Concepcion and Matt Shuham
Besides teaching us how to hit with pads [in football], [Sister] Paulinus instructed us in English, history, and the love of God, with a distinctive combination of toughness and good humor.Luke Timothy Johnson
: the quality of being difficult to accomplish, resolve, endure, or deal with
the toughness of life in prison
the toughness of these decisions
After an appearance on British television, he is almost giddy at the toughness of the questions he faced.A. O. Scott
Just spritz on some Dawn Power Dissolver, wait 15 to 30 minutes depending on the toughness of the job, wipe with a sponge, and rinse.Cook's Illustrated

Examples of toughness in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The Mavs have star power, depth and a newfound toughness with the additions of Washington, Lively, Jones and Daniel Gafford this season. Steven Johnson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 19 May 2024 And yet, even in defeat, Santillan showed his hometown fans an incredible combination of toughness and will power. Ivan Carter, San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 May 2024 Annika is hard to figure out, a blend of toughness and vulnerability. Mary Ann Grossmann, Twin Cities, 12 May 2024 Start, stay healthy, show flashes of toughness, magic, while possessing the hardware and software. Troy Renck, The Denver Post, 11 May 2024 Each setback became a steppingstone, fostering a culture of mental toughness within the company. Kyle J. Russell, USA TODAY, 10 May 2024 His athleticism, toughness and leadership skills will be called upon by a Narbonne team that is loaded with quality skill-position players. Eric Sondheimer, Los Angeles Times, 8 May 2024 But while the measurements — in both time and size — aren’t all that alluring, Barrett’s toughness, tenacity and natural leadership ability should give him a chance in Carolina. Mike Kaye, Charlotte Observer, 7 May 2024 Perry has the size, strength and toughness to be a more impactful run defender but seems too content to cruise through games at times. Barry Jackson, Miami Herald, 3 May 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'toughness.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


tough entry 1 + -ness

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of toughness was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near toughness

Cite this Entry

“Toughness.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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