tough 1 of 2

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

Synonyms & Similar Words


Antonyms & Near Antonyms



2 of 2


Synonym Chooser

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

Thesaurus Entries Near tough

Cite this Entry

“Tough.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Dec. 2023.

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