- 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 for tough on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for tougher
“The closer we get to ‘16, the tougher it’s going to be, so I hope we start quickly,” he said.Can This Republican Bring the GOP Back to Its Senses on Immigration?
December 29, 2014
Have a kid here –what some pejoratively refer to as an “anchor baby” – and it is tougher to be deported.The Progressive Case Against Birthright Citizenship
December 15, 2014
Tougher regulations on tank cars and oil-by-rail make sense.Why the Keystone XL Pipeline May Not Be Built
November 19, 2014
The good doctor gave as good as he got in one of the tougher interview environments around.Dr. Kent Goes Toe-to-Toe With Colbert On Ebola
October 3, 2014
In other words, make fireworks less available for home misuse and develop an ever tougher crackdown on drunk drivers.How Not to Blow Yourself Up on July 4th
July 3, 2014
There is no tougher man or more resolute fighter in the Army.Gallipoli Diary, Volume 2
I do,—but it is going to be a tougher struggle than any of us expected.For the Liberty of Texas
"It's a tougher problem than we ever attacked in Euclid," remarked the younger.Two Boys in Wyoming
Edward S. Ellis
It is tougher than our glass, and chips to a fine razor edge.True Words for Brave Men
“And we eat him too, though his steaks are tougher than cow meat,” laughed Fil.Fil and Filippa
John Stuart Thomson
- 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 tougher
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.).
Idioms and Phrases with tougher
In addition to the idioms beginning with tough
- tough break
- tough it out
- tough nut
- tough row to hoe
- tough sledding
- get tough
- gut (tough) it out
- hang tough
- hard (tough) act to follow
- hard (tough) nut to crack