toughtough1 /tʌf/ ●●●S2W2 adjective (comparative tougher, superlative toughest)1difficultDIFFICULTdifficult to do or deal withIt was a tough race.She’s had a tough life.The company admitted that it had been a tough year.Tough decisions will have to be made.The reporters were asking a lot of tough questions.have a tough time (of it) (=face a lot of difficult problems)The family has had a tough time of it these last few months.it’s tough doing somethingIt’s tough being married to a cop.be tough on somebody (=cause problems for someone or make their life difficult)Having to stay indoors all day is tough on a kid.It was a tough call (=a difficult decision), but we had to cancel the game because of the weather.I find his books pretty tough going (=difficult to read).Gage predicted the president’s proposal would be a tough sell (=something that is difficult to persuade someone about) before Congress. American Englishwhen the going gets tough (the tough get going) informal (=used to say that when a situation becomes difficult, strong people take the necessary action to deal with it)► see thesaurus at difficult2strong personSTRONG PERSON physically or emotionally strong and able to deal with difficult situationsThe men who work on the oil rigs are a tough bunch.tough cookie/customer informal (=someone who is very determined to do what they want and not what other people want)as tough as nails/as tough as old boots (=very tough)He’s as tough as nails – a good man to have on the team.► see thesaurus at determined3strong materialSTRONG OBJECT not easily broken or made weakertough, durable plastica very tough, hard-wearing cloth► see thesaurus at strong4strict/firmDETERMINEDSTRICT very strict or firmtough on/withMy mother was very tough on my sister.It’s time to get tough with drunk drivers.The EU is taking a tough line with the UK over this issue.► see thesaurus at strict5violent areaVIOLENT a tough part of a town has a lot of crime or violencetough neighborhood/area/part of town etca tough area of Chicago6 →tough!/that’s tough!7 →tough luck!8 →tough shit!9violent personVIOLENTlikely to behave violently and having no gentlequalitiesone of football’s most notorious tough guystough young thugs looking for trouble10foodDFHARD difficult to cut or eatOPP tenderThe meat was tough and hard to chew.the tough outer leaves of the cabbage► see thesaurus at hard11 →tough love —toughly adverb —toughness noun [uncountable]
tough• Charles's body language was geared to communicating to streettoughs.toughtough4 adverbin a way that shows you are very determinedWashington played tough in the second half of the game.You’re talking tough now but you wait until you get into the interview.
Examples from the Corpus
tough• The team plays tough when it has to.Origintough1Old Englishtoh