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get tough with

Become harsh, severe, unyielding with someone. For example, We have to get tough with these people or we'll get nowhere. [c. 1930]

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.