Other forms: tougher; toughest; toughs

The adjective tough is good for describing hard times. If you just got mugged, lost your job, got the flu, and broke your toe, you're having a really tough week.

Tough means "strong, hard, unbending," and you can use it to describe many different things, like a tough exam, or a tough piece of beef jerky, or a tough day that you just want to be over. If a judge punishes criminals harshly to set examples, she's "tough on crime." We call people toughs if they seem likely to beat you up. Tough things are made to withstand a beating, like the tires on your mountain bike. Pronounce: TUFF.

Definitions of tough
  1. adjective
    substantially made or constructed
    “a tough all-weather fabric”
    “some plastics are as tough as metal”
    synonyms: sturdy
    sturdy and strong in constitution or construction; enduring
  2. adjective
    physically toughened
    “the tough bottoms of his feet”
    synonyms: toughened
    sturdy and strong in constitution or construction; enduring
    experienced, experient
    having experience; having knowledge or skill from observation or participation
    having strength or power greater than average or expected
    callous, calloused, callused, thickened
    having calluses; having skin made tough and thick through wear
    enured, hardened, inured
    made tough by habitual exposure
    tanned and coarsened from being outdoors
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    tender, untoughened
    physically untoughened
    wanting in physical strength
    delicate, soft
    easily hurt
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  3. adjective
    resistant to cutting or chewing
    inedible, uneatable
    not suitable for food
    cartilaginous, gristly, rubbery
    difficult to chew
    requiring much chewing
    coriaceous, leathered, leatherlike, leathery
    resembling or made to resemble leather; tough but pliable
    fibrous, sinewy, stringy, unchewable
    (of meat) full of sinews; especially impossible to chew
    fibrous, hempen
    having or resembling fibers especially fibers used in making cordage such as those of jute
    having a relatively tough outer covering
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    easy to cut or chew
    comestible, eatable, edible
    suitable for use as food
    chewable, cuttable
    easy to cut or chew
    crisp, crispy, crunchy
    tender and brittle
    flakey, flaky
    made of or easily forming flakes
    tenderised, tenderized
    made tender as by marinating or pounding
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  4. adjective
    violent and lawless
    tough street gangs”
    synonyms: ruffianly
    acting with or marked by or resulting from great force or energy or emotional intensity
  5. adjective
    not given to gentleness or sentimentality
    “a tough character”
    deficient in human sensibility; not mentally or morally sensitive
    hard-bitten, hard-boiled, pugnacious
    tough and callous by virtue of experience
    tough-minded, unsentimental
    facing facts or difficulties realistically and with determination
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    given to sympathy or gentleness or sentimentality
    compassionate and kind; conciliatory
    showing care
    given to or marked by sentiment or sentimentality
    show more antonyms...
  6. noun
    a cruel and brutal fellow
    synonyms: bully, hooligan, roughneck, rowdy, ruffian, yob, yobbo, yobo
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    show 5 types...
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    a swaggering tough; usually one acting as an agent of a political faction
    muscle, muscleman
    a bully employed as a thug or bodyguard
    a young person who belongs to a British or American group that shave their heads and gather at rock concerts or engage in white supremacist demonstrations
    plug-ugly, tough guy
    someone who bullies weaker people
    Ted, Teddy boy
    a tough youth of 1950's and 1960's wearing Edwardian style clothes
    type of:
    aggressor, assailant, assaulter, attacker
    someone who attacks
  7. noun
    an aggressive and violent young criminal
    synonyms: goon, hood, hoodlum, punk, strong-armer, thug, toughie
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    a hired thug
    type of:
    criminal, crook, felon, malefactor, outlaw
    someone who has committed a crime or has been legally convicted of a crime
  8. noun
    someone who learned to fight in the streets rather than being formally trained in the sport of boxing
    synonyms: street fighter
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    type of:
    battler, belligerent, combatant, fighter, scrapper
    someone who fights (or is fighting)
  9. adjective
    very difficult; severely testing stamina or resolution
    “the competition was tough
    “it's a tough life”
    “it was a tough job”
    synonyms: rugged
    difficult, hard
    not easy; requiring great physical or mental effort to accomplish or comprehend or endure
  10. adjective
    unfortunate or hard to bear
    “a tough break”
    synonyms: hard
    having undesirable or negative qualities
  11. adjective
    making great mental demands; hard to comprehend or solve or believe
    synonyms: baffling, elusive, knotty, problematic, problematical
    difficult, hard
    not easy; requiring great physical or mental effort to accomplish or comprehend or endure
  12. adjective
    feeling physical discomfort or pain (`tough' is occasionally used colloquially for `bad')
    “he was feeling tough after a restless night”
    synonyms: bad
    providing or experiencing physical discomfort




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DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘tough'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
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