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

intransitive verb

: to become tough

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 Hard water can toughen the skins of them, and age can affect cook time by as much as an hour and a half, hence the 40 minutes to 2.5-hour range in cook time. Southern Living Test Kitchen, Southern Living, 10 Apr. 2024 Bill's attempts to toughen him up are continually undermined (even choosing the proper hat becomes a hilarious four-minute set piece). Danny Horn,, 9 Apr. 2024 In 1990, the protocol was toughened to eventually phase out CFCs entirely. Trip Gabriel, New York Times, 4 Apr. 2024 President Joe Biden must toughen up and not allow Benjamin Netanyahu to dictate and reject our advice to stop the invasion of Rafah. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, 28 Mar. 2024 Employers may also be tipping others into retirement by toughening their work-from-home rules and pressuring workers to spend more time in the office. Alex Tanzi, Fortune, 9 Feb. 2024 Two months later, the Biden administration toughened its earlier regulations by expanding the range of covered semiconductor products. Aziz Huq, Foreign Affairs, 11 Mar. 2024 Given that in early returns, 73% of voters in his district chose anyone but him, and Santiago is raring to blast his former ally, De León better toughen up. Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times, 6 Mar. 2024 The international police organization has toughened oversight of its protocols, which autocrats have used to pursue dissidents. Jane Bradley, New York Times, 20 Feb. 2024

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

Word History

First Known Use

1582, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of toughen was in 1582

Dictionary Entries Near toughen

Cite this Entry

“Toughen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


tough·​en ˈtəf-ən How to pronounce toughen (audio)
toughened; toughening ˈtəf-(ə-)niŋ How to pronounce toughen (audio)
: to make or become tough

More from Merriam-Webster on toughen

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