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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.


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


  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.

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"


1. The fact or condition of being rigorous and unsparing:
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


[ˈtʌfnɪs] n
[person] → solidité f
to show great mental toughness → se montrer très solide mentalement
[material, leather] → solidité f; [stone] → dureté f


(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


[ˈtʌfnɪs] n (see adj)


(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.
References in periodicals archive ?
The vertical placement of the curves indicates the relative toughnesses of the materials.
The untoughened nylons are linear elastic materials and were tested using LEFM techniques to quantify their initiation toughnesses The fracture toughness results for N6 and N66 are given in Table 2 with the results for the phenolic/burlap material currently used in the casters.
2] value to be meaningful, it must provide either a predictive capability with regard to finished part performance or relative ranking of the fracture toughnesses of materials.