from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Able to withstand great strain without tearing or breaking; strong and resilient.
  • adjective Hard to cut or chew.
  • adjective Physically hardy; rugged.
  • adjective Strong-minded; resolute.
  • adjective Aggressive; pugnacious.
  • adjective Inclined to violent or disruptive behavior; rowdy or rough.
  • adjective Difficult to endure; severe; harsh.
  • adjective Trying or unpleasant.
  • adjective Difficult to deal with; demanding or troubling.
  • adjective Informal Unfortunate; too bad.
  • adjective Slang Fine; great.
  • noun A violent or rowdy person; a hoodlum or thug.
  • idiom (that's tough) Used to indicate recalcitrance or noncompliance with a complaint or demand.
  • idiom (tough it out) To get through despite hardship; endure.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Having the property of flexibility without brittleness; yielding to a bending force without breaking; also, hard to cut or sever, as with a cutting-instrument: as, tough meat.
  • Firm; strong; able to endure hardship, hard work, or ill usage; hardy; not easily broken or impaired.
  • Not easily separated; tenacious; stiff; ropy; viscous: as, a tough clay; tough phlegm.
  • Not easily influenced; unyielding; stubborn; hardened; incorrigible.
  • Hard to manage or accomplish; difficult; trying; requiring great or continued effort.
  • Severe; violent: as, a tough rebuke or tirade; a tough storm.
  • noun A rough; a bully; an incorrigibly vicious fellow; a bad character.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Having the quality of flexibility without brittleness; yielding to force without breaking; capable of resisting great strain.
  • adjective Not easily broken; able to endure hardship; firm; strong; -- of objects and people.
  • adjective Not easily separated; viscous; clammy; tenacious.
  • adjective Stiff; rigid; not flexible; stubborn.
  • adjective colloq. Severe; violent.
  • adjective Difficult to do, perform, or accomplish.
  • adjective Prone to aggressive or violent behavior; rowdyish; -- of people, or groups.
  • adjective [Obs.] to make it a matter of difficulty; to make it a hard matter.
  • noun A person who is tough{7}; a ruffian; a thug.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Strong and resilient; sturdy.
  • adjective of food Difficult to cut or chew.
  • adjective Rugged or physically hardy.
  • adjective Stubborn.
  • adjective of weather, etc. Harsh or severe.
  • adjective Rowdy or rough.
  • adjective etc. Difficult or demanding.
  • adjective material science Undergoing plastic deformation before breaking.
  • interjection slang Used to indicate lack of sympathy
  • noun A person who obtains things by force; a thug or bully.
  • verb To endure.
  • verb To toughen.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective making great mental demands; hard to comprehend or solve or believe
  • noun an aggressive and violent young criminal
  • noun someone who learned to fight in the streets rather than being formally trained in the sport of boxing
  • adjective unfortunate or hard to bear
  • adjective substantially made or constructed


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old English tōh.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English tōh, from Proto-Germanic *tanhuz.


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  • One tough cucumber.

    August 3, 2008