- strong and durable; not easily broken or cut.
- not brittle or tender.
- difficult to masticate, as food: a tough steak.
- of viscous consistency, as liquid or semiliquid matter: tough molasses.
- capable of great endurance; sturdy; hardy: tough troops.
- not easily influenced, as a person; unyielding; stubborn: a tough man to work for.
- hardened; incorrigible: a tough criminal.
- difficult to perform, accomplish, or deal with; hard, trying, or troublesome: a tough problem.
- hard to bear or endure (often used ironically): tough luck.
- vigorous; severe; violent: a tough struggle.
- vicious; rough; rowdyish: a tough character; a tough neighborhood.
- practical, realistic, and lacking in sentimentality; tough-minded.
- Slang. remarkably excellent; first-rate; great.
- in a tough manner.
- a ruffian; rowdy.
- hang tough, Slang. hang(def 56).
- tough it out, Informal. to endure or resist hardship or adversity.
Origin of tough
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for tough
His flesh is sagging a bit, but he is still trim and looks lean, sinewy and tough.
“You ask me my motivation,” Marvin says, moving back into his tough guy persona again.
After a bunch of tough talk, this round of the hacker-on-hacker fight nevered materialized.The Attack on the Hidden Internet
December 29, 2014
But it certainly contributed, and purposely so, to the defeat of the tough Likud hardliner Yitzhak Shamir in 1992.The Inside Story of U.S. Meddling in Israel’s Elections
Aaron David Miller
December 4, 2014
It was tough for a while, but I knew who I was, so I stayed true to it.Exclusive: Michael Phelps’s Intersex Self-Proclaimed Girlfriend, Taylor Lianne Chandler, Tells All
November 26, 2014
He was tough, but the ranch horses of John Merchant came out from a night of rest.Way of the Lawless
If the mushrooms are found to be tough, the skin should be peeled off.Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 2
Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences
Even when they did pick out novels, they were just as tough as the history books.In the Midst of Alarms
This game's too tough fer me—I'll ship me plugs to Gravesend.Thoroughbreds
W. A. Fraser
There he met two other tough ones like himself,—Duroc and Junot.The Boy Life of Napoleon
- strong or resilient; durablea tough material
- not tenderhe could not eat the tough steak
- having a great capacity for endurance; hardy and fita tough mountaineer
- rough or pugnaciousa tough gangster
- resolute or intractablea tough employer
- difficult or troublesome to do or deal witha tough problem
- informal unfortunate or unluckyit's tough on him
- a rough, vicious, or pugnacious person
- informal violently, aggressively, or intractablyto treat someone tough
- hang tough informal to be or appear to be strong or determined
- (tr) slang to stand firm, hold out against (a difficulty or difficult situation) (esp in tough it out)
Word Origin and History for tough
Old English toh "difficult to break or chew," from Proto-Germanic *tankhuz (cf. Middle Low German tege, Middle Dutch taey, Dutch taai, Old High German zach, German zäh). See rough for spelling change.
Figurative sense of "strenuous, difficult, hard to beat" is first recorded c.1200; that of "hard to do, trying, laborious" is from 1610s. Verb tough it "endure the experience" is first recorded 1830, American English. Tough guy first recorded 1932. Tough-minded first recorded 1907 in William James. Tough luck first recorded 1912; tough shit is from 1946.
"street ruffian," 1866, American English, from tough (adj.).