- 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 toughest
Here are the places where the company is fighting its toughest challenges to its services as well as its reputation.Things Are Going Downhill Fast for Uber
December 11, 2014
By the end of the night, even the toughest guys are having the greatest time.Meet the Julia Child of Weed
November 13, 2014
Stand-up comedian Adam Newman encountered one of the toughest rooms any comic could work over the weekend.NYPD Heckles Comedian During Arrest (NSFW)
Alex Chancey, The Daily Beast Video
October 14, 2014
Good luck getting in, this may prove to be the toughest seat in Dallas restaurant history.Spain’s Finest Restaurant Pops Up in Texas
July 10, 2014
The toughest call here is, of course, exactly what help to provide.The Unhappy Truth About Ukraine
Leslie H. Gelb
May 2, 2014
The toughest part of it is that you got the job for me—and I had to fall down.The Fortune Hunter
Louis Joseph Vance
Okay, Chief, said Carter, though he knew this would be the toughest job yet.Spawn of the Comet
Harold Thompson Rich
Telling you—next to telling Nellie—was the toughest job I ever tackled.The Rise of Roscoe Paine
Joseph C. Lincoln
It'll be the toughest sleddin' that we ever went up against.Dwellers in the Hills
Melville Davisson Post
It was a tough night outside, one of the toughest for years.The Arena
- 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 toughest
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.).