verb (used with or without object)

to make or become tough or tougher.

Origin of toughen

First recorded in 1575–85; tough + -en1
Related formstough·en·er, noun

Synonyms for toughen Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for toughen

Contemporary Examples of toughen

  • Philip has never been given to displays of emotion, and saw his role as a father to ‘toughen up’ his sons.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Kate and William’s Royal Family Values

    Tom Sykes

    September 22, 2014

  • The African-American community wants Obama to toughen up and fight back.

  • Valdes-Rodriguez is dating a New Mexico cowpoke who is attempting to toughen up her son.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Meet the Fútbol Moms

    Bryan Curtis

    July 18, 2011

  • Perhaps they are planning to toughen up the bill, not in the shadows of committee but in the sunshine of open debate.

    The Daily Beast logo
    How Obama Wimped Out

    Eric Alterman

    April 29, 2010

  • While we celebrate our progress in 2009, we must toughen our resolve not to back off one iota.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Year in Sexism

    Amy Siskind

    December 17, 2009

Historical Examples of toughen

British Dictionary definitions for toughen



to make or become tough or tougher
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

Word Origin and History for toughen

1580s, from tough (adj.) + -en (1). Related: Toughened; toughening.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper