Definitions

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

  • adj. Able to withstand great strain without tearing or breaking; strong and resilient: a tough all-weather fabric.
  • adj. Hard to cut or chew: tough meat.
  • adj. Physically hardy; rugged: tough mountaineers; a tough cop.
  • adj. Severe; harsh: a tough winter.
  • adj. Aggressive; pugnacious.
  • adj. Inclined to violent or disruptive behavior; rowdy or rough: a tough street group.
  • adj. Demanding or troubling; difficult: skipping the toughest questions.
  • adj. Strong-minded; resolute: a tough negotiator.
  • adj. Slang Unfortunate; too bad: a tough break.
  • adj. Slang Fine; great.
  • n. A violent or rowdy person; a hoodlum or thug.
  • idiom tough it out Slang To get through despite hardship; endure: "It helps if one was raised to tough it out” ( Gail Sheehy).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Strong and resilient; sturdy.
  • adj. Difficult to cut or chew.
  • adj. Rugged or physically hardy.
  • adj. Stubborn.
  • adj. Harsh or severe.
  • adj. Rowdy or rough.
  • adj. Difficult or demanding.
  • adj. Undergoing plastic deformation before breaking.
  • interj. Used to indicate lack of sympathy
  • n. A person who obtains things by force; a thug or bully.
  • v. To endure.
  • v. To toughen.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 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.
  • n. A rough; a bully; an incorrigibly vicious fellow; a bad character.

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

  • adj. making great mental demands; hard to comprehend or solve or believe
  • n. an aggressive and violent young criminal
  • n. someone who learned to fight in the streets rather than being formally trained in the sport of boxing
  • adj. unfortunate or hard to bear
  • adj. substantially made or constructed
  • adj. physically toughened
  • n. a cruel and brutal fellow
  • adj. very difficult; severely testing stamina or resolution
  • adj. feeling physical discomfort or pain (`tough' is occasionally used colloquially for `bad')
  • adj. violent and lawless
  • adj. not given to gentleness or sentimentality
  • adj. resistant to cutting or chewing

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old English tōh.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old English tōh, from Proto-Germanic *tanhuz. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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