Try Our Apps
Dictionary.com

follow Dictionary.com

The Word of the Year is...

tough

[tuhf] /tʌf/
adjective, tougher, toughest.
1.
strong and durable; not easily broken or cut.
2.
not brittle or tender.
3.
difficult to masticate, as food:
a tough steak.
4.
of viscous consistency, as liquid or semiliquid matter:
tough molasses.
5.
capable of great endurance; sturdy; hardy:
tough troops.
6.
not easily influenced, as a person; unyielding; stubborn:
a tough man to work for.
7.
hardened; incorrigible:
a tough criminal.
8.
difficult to perform, accomplish, or deal with; hard, trying, or troublesome:
a tough problem.
9.
hard to bear or endure (often used ironically):
tough luck.
10.
vigorous; severe; violent:
a tough struggle.
11.
vicious; rough; rowdyish:
a tough character; a tough neighborhood.
12.
practical, realistic, and lacking in sentimentality; tough-minded.
13.
Slang. remarkably excellent; first-rate; great.
adverb
14.
in a tough manner.
noun
15.
a ruffian; rowdy.
Idioms
16.
hang tough, Slang. hang (def 56).
17.
tough it out, Informal. to endure or resist hardship or adversity.
Origin of tough
900
before 900; Middle English (adj.); Old English tōh; compare Dutch taai, German zäh(e)
Related forms
toughly, adverb
toughness, noun
supertough, adjective
untough, adjective
untoughly, adverb
untoughness, noun
Synonyms
1. firm, hard. 5. durable. 6. inflexible.
Antonyms
1. fragile. 5. feeble, weak.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for toughs
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Mavy's friends kept the toughs off, and I believe he'll sell out everything he has in his wagon.

    A Prairie Courtship Harold Bindloss
  • toughs as they were, these two men fully appreciated the company they were in.

    The Law-Breakers Ridgwell Cullum
  • You say my paper isn't fit for aught but toughs and muckers?

    Rippling Rhymes Walt Mason
  • Why, he wondered, didn't the Masters make the toughs sweep their own barracks?

    Rebels of the Red Planet Charles Louis Fontenay
  • We might even turn the toughs loose on them, without weapons.

    Rebels of the Red Planet Charles Louis Fontenay
  • But, even so, the Kid had proved that my theories about toughs were not rot.

  • Most of the respectable people were swept away by the flood, but nearly all the 'toughs' were left.

    The Johnstown Horror James Herbert Walker
  • This is the man who hired a gang of toughs to raid our camps and steal our railroad.

    Sudden Jim Clarence Budington Kelland
British Dictionary definitions for toughs

tough

/tʌf/
adjective
1.
strong or resilient; durable: a tough material
2.
not tender: he could not eat the tough steak
3.
having a great capacity for endurance; hardy and fit: a tough mountaineer
4.
rough or pugnacious: a tough gangster
5.
resolute or intractable: a tough employer
6.
difficult or troublesome to do or deal with: a tough problem
7.
(informal) unfortunate or unlucky: it's tough on him
noun
8.
a rough, vicious, or pugnacious person
adverb
9.
(informal) violently, aggressively, or intractably: to treat someone tough
10.
(informal) hang tough, to be or appear to be strong or determined
verb
11.
(transitive) (slang) to stand firm, hold out against (a difficulty or difficult situation) (esp in tough it out)
Derived Forms
toughish, adjective
toughly, adverb
Word Origin
Old English tōh; related to Old High German zāhi tough, Old Norse trodden ground in front of a house
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for toughs

tough

adj.

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.

n.

"street ruffian," 1866, American English, from tough (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Slang definitions & phrases for toughs

tough

adjective

  1. Difficult; regrettable; unfortunate: That's a tough break, pardner (1883+)
  2. Physically menacing; vicious: Don't act tough with me, you little jerk (1906+)
  3. Excellent; superb; the MOST •Sometimes spelled tuff: That's a really tough set of wheels (1937+ Black)

noun

A hard and menacing person (1866+)

Related Terms

tough it out

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with toughs
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for tough

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for toughs

10
11
Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for toughs