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Related to toughness: Fracture toughness


adj. tough·er, tough·est
1. Able to withstand great strain without tearing or breaking; strong and resilient: a tough all-weather fabric.
2. Hard to cut or chew: tough meat.
a. Physically hardy; rugged: tough mountaineers; a tough cop.
b. Strong-minded; resolute: a tough negotiator.
a. Aggressive; pugnacious.
b. Inclined to violent or disruptive behavior; rowdy or rough: a tough street group.
a. Difficult to endure; severe; harsh: a tough winter.
b. Trying or unpleasant: had a tough day.
c. Difficult to deal with; demanding or troubling: It's tough to go to school and work a full-time job. The exam had many tough questions.
d. Informal Unfortunate; too bad: It was a tough break to get sick on the day of the concert.
6. Slang Fine; great.
A violent or rowdy person; a hoodlum or thug.
that's tough
Used to indicate recalcitrance or noncompliance with a complaint or demand.
tough it out Slang
To get through despite hardship; endure: "It helps if one was raised to tough it out" (Gail Sheehy).

[Middle English, from Old English tōh.]

tough′ly adv.
tough′ness n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. the quality or an instance of being tough
2. (Metallurgy) metallurgy the ability of a metal to withstand repeated twisting and bending, measured by the energy in kilojoules needed to break it. See brittleness2, softness2
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


  1. Babies you about as much as Perry White babies Clark Kent —Peter H. Lewis describing a tough-to-master computer program, New York Times, 1985
  2. (The man is as) hard as a cash register —Dialogue, “Miami Vice” television drama, broadcast January 7, 1986
  3. (She can be) hard as a mineral —Philip Roth

    The “Hard as a mineral” lady is the mother of Nathan Zuckerman, hero of several Roth novels.

  4. Hard as flint —Larry McMurtry
  5. Hard as my fist —Tennessee Williams
  6. Hard as a tortoise-shell —John Galsworthy
  7. Hardboiled as a picnic egg —Edward E. Paramore
  8. Resilient and tenacious as an amoeba —Natascha Wodin
  9. She’s [Genevieve Bujold] tough as a little green apple —Rex Reed
  10. Tough and leathery as a jockey —John Mortimer
  11. Tough and shrill as an old bird —H.E. Bates
  12. Tough and hard-boiled as an Easter egg —Anon
  13. Tough as a black oak —Dee Brown
  14. Tough as a bone —W. S. Gilbert
  15. Tough as a fast food steak —Tim McCarver, describing baseball player Dave Parker on television, January, 1987
  16. Tough as a kibbutz woman —T. Coraghessan Boyle
  17. (She was short and fat,) tough as a monkey —Rudolf Nassauer
  18. Tough as an elephant’s hide —Calder Willingham
  19. (He was as) tough as a resistant bacterium —Patrick Suskind
  20. Tough as a stale bagel —Anon
  21. (Memories as) tough as a thorn —Babette Deutsch
  22. Tough as boiled owls —Hubert H. Humphrey on his opponent for presidential election
  23. (She’s big as a damned barn and) tough as knife metal —Ken Kesey
  24. Tough as marshmallows —Anon, Forbes, March 23, 1987

    The simile was used as a blurb to introduce an article about the government sounding tough but not following through.

  25. (She was) a tough lady, like a military jeep rolling from place to place on thick tires —Harvey Jacobs
  26. (She’s as) tough as old boots —Mary Bridgman

    Around since 1870. A popular variant: “Tough as old shoe leather.”

  27. Tough as seaweed —Linda Pastan
  28. Tough as teak —Bryan Forbes
  29. Tough as tire treads —Lynn Haney

    The person being compared to tire treads is the late Edith Piaf.

Similes Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1988 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.toughness - enduring strength and energytoughness - enduring strength and energy  
endurance - the power to withstand hardship or stress; "the marathon tests a runner's endurance"
legs - staying power; "that old Broadway play really has legs"
2.toughness - the property of being big and strongtoughness - the property of being big and strong
strength - the property of being physically or mentally strong; "fatigue sapped his strength"
3.toughness - the elasticity and hardness of a metal objecttoughness - the elasticity and hardness of a metal object; its ability to absorb considerable energy before cracking
elasticity, snap - the tendency of a body to return to its original shape after it has been stretched or compressed; "the waistband had lost its snap"
4.toughness - impressive difficultytoughness - impressive difficulty    
difficultness, difficulty - the quality of being difficult; "they agreed about the difficulty of the climb"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


1. The fact or condition of being rigorous and unsparing:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
قَسْوَه، صَلابَه، جَلافَه، خُشونَه
harka; staîfesta


[ˈtʌfnɪs] N
1. [of person] → dureza f
she has a reputation for toughnesstiene fama de dura
2. [of substance, material] → dureza f, resistencia f
3. [of meat] → dureza f
4. [of policy, measure] → dureza f
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[ˈtʌfnɪs] n
[person] → solidité f
to show great mental toughness → se montrer très solide mentalement
[material, leather] → solidité f; [stone] → dureté f
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


(of meat etc)Zähheit f; (of person)Zähigkeit f; (= resistance)Widerstandsfähigkeit f; (of cloth)Strapazierfähigkeit f; (of skin)Rauheit f; (of bargaining, negotiator, opponent, fight, struggle, lesson)Härte f; (of district, city)Rauheit f
(= difficulty)Schwierigkeit f; (of journey)Strapazen pl
(= harshness: of policy, controls) → Härte f
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[ˈtʌfnɪs] n (see adj)
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(taf) adjective
1. strong; not easily broken, worn out etc. Plastic is a tough material.
2. (of food etc) difficult to chew.
3. (of people) strong; able to bear hardship, illness etc. She must be tough to have survived such a serious illness.
4. rough and violent. It's a tough neighbourhood.
5. difficult to deal with or overcome. a tough problem; The competition was really tough.
a rough, violent person; a bully.
ˈtoughness noun
ˈtoughen verb
to make or become tough.
tough luck
bad luck. That was tough luck.
get tough with (someone)
to deal forcefully with or refuse to yield to (a person). When he started to argue, I got tough with him.
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.
References in classic literature ?
Delicate morsels of beef and pork, cut on scientific principles from every part of the animal, and of all conceivable shapes and sizes, are carefully packed in salt, and stored away in barrels; affording a never-ending variety in their different degrees of toughness, and in the peculiarities of their saline properties.
Sabor proved unsavory eating even to Tarzan of the Apes, but hunger served as a most efficacious disguise to toughness and rank taste, and ere long, with well-filled stomach, the ape-man was ready to sleep again.
And Captain Van Horn, who ruled the Arangi in bare legs, a loin cloth, and a sixpenny under-shirt, and ran cannibal blacks back and forth in the blackbird trade with an automatic strapped to his body waking and sleeping and with his head forfeit in scores of salt- water villages and bush strongholds, and who was esteemed the toughest skipper in the Solomons where only men who are tough may continue to live and esteem toughness, blinked with sudden moisture in his eyes, and could not see for the moment the puppy that quivered all its body of love in his arms and kissed away the salty softness of his eyes.
Not at all intimidated by this rebuff, but rather sharpened in wits and appetite, Mr Swiveller forwarded the same message to another and more distant eating-house, adding to it by way of rider that the gentleman was induced to send so far, not only by the great fame and popularity its beef had acquired, but in consequence of the extreme toughness of the beef retailed at the obdurant cook's shop, which rendered it quite unfit not merely for gentlemanly food, but for any human consumption.
And yet he was evidently not a man to whom fatigue was familiar; long, lean, and muscular, he suggested the sort of vigor that is commonly known as "toughness." But his exertions on this particular day had been of an unwonted sort, and he had performed great physical feats which left him less jaded than his tranquil stroll through the Louvre.
He glanced about him at the well-bred, well-dressed men and women, and breathed into his lungs the atmosphere of culture and refinement, and at the same moment the ghost of his early youth, in stiff-rim and square-cut, with swagger and toughness, stalked across the room.
Nor could it guess the toughness of the fiber of the flesh, the instantaneousness of the cell explosions of the muscles, the fineness of the nerves that wired every part of him into a spendid fighting mechanism.
However that may be, I was struck by the peculiar toughness of the steel which bore so many violent blows without being worn out.
My toughness has been proved, sir, in this room many and many a time, as I think you know; and if you don't know,' added John, putting his pipe in his mouth again, 'so much the better, for I an't proud and am not going to tell you.'
(which they wouldn't have been), and that she has a tenderness for him still (whereas her toughness is a proverb).
The retinue of Earl Dorm was not strong numerically--the household being, to judge from appearances, one that had seen better days; but it struck Agravaine that what it lacked in numbers it made up in toughness. Among all those at the bottom of the room there was not one whom it would have been agreeable to meet alone in a dark alley.
Bagnet briskly, "here we are, Lignum and myself"--she often speaks of her husband by this appellation, on account, as it is supposed, of Lignum Vitae having been his old regimental nickname when they first became acquainted, in compliment to the extreme hardness and toughness of his physiognomy--"just looked in, we have, to make it all correct as usual about that security.