Synonyms & Antonyms of tough

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 not easily chewed
  • her steak was so tough that she suggested the waiter use it as a hockey puck

Synonyms for tough

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Antonyms for tough

5 requiring exceptional skill or caution in performance or handling
  • handled a tough situation with the aplomb and tact of a true diplomat

Synonyms for tough

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Synonyms of tough (Entry 2 of 2)

a violent, brutal person who is often a member of an organized gang
  • didn't want her son hanging out with the neighborhood toughs

Synonyms for tough

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Frequently Asked Questions About tough

How is the word tough different from other adjectives like it?

Some common synonyms of tough are stalwart, stout, strong, sturdy, and tenacious. While all these words mean "showing power to resist or to endure," tough implies great firmness and resiliency.

a tough political opponent

When can stalwart be used instead of tough?

The words stalwart and tough can be used in similar contexts, but stalwart suggests an unshakable dependability.

stalwart environmentalists

Where would stout be a reasonable alternative to tough?

The words stout and tough are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, stout suggests an ability to endure stress, pain, or hard use without giving way.

stout hiking boots

When could strong be used to replace tough?

The meanings of strong and tough largely overlap; however, strong may imply power derived from muscular vigor, large size, structural soundness, intellectual or spiritual resources.

strong arms

the defense has a strong case

When would sturdy be a good substitute for tough?

Although the words sturdy and tough have much in common, sturdy implies strength derived from vigorous growth, determination of spirit, solidity of construction.

a sturdy table

people of sturdy independence

When is tenacious a more appropriate choice than tough?

While in some cases nearly identical to tough, tenacious suggests strength in seizing, retaining, clinging to, or holding together.

tenacious farmers clinging to an age-old way of life

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Time Traveler for tough

Time Traveler

The first known use of tough was before the 12th century

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Thesaurus Entries Near tough



toughed it out

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Cite this Entry

“Tough.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on tough

Nglish: Translation of tough for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tough for Arabic Speakers


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