• WordNet 3.6
    • adj tough feeling physical discomfort or pain (`tough' is occasionally used colloquially for `bad') "my throat feels bad","she felt bad all over","he was feeling tough after a restless night"
    • adj tough substantially made or constructed "sturdy steel shelves","sturdy canvas","a tough all-weather fabric","some plastics are as tough as metal"
    • adj tough making great mental demands; hard to comprehend or solve or believe "a baffling problem","I faced the knotty problem of what to have for breakfast","a problematic situation at home"
    • adj tough very difficult; severely testing stamina or resolution "a rugged competitive examination","the rugged conditions of frontier life","the competition was tough","it's a tough life","it was a tough job"
    • adj tough unfortunate or hard to bear "had hard luck","a tough break"
    • adj tough resistant to cutting or chewing
    • adj tough physically toughened "the tough bottoms of his feet"
    • adj tough not given to gentleness or sentimentality "a tough character"
    • adj tough violent and lawless "the more ruffianly element","tough street gangs"
    • n tough a cruel and brutal fellow
    • n tough an aggressive and violent young criminal
    • n tough someone who learned to fight in the streets rather than being formally trained in the sport of boxing
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: The cartoon character Popeye was actually based on a real person named Frank "Rocky" Fiegel who was a tough guy who was quite similar to Popeye physically
    • Tough Difficult to do, perform, or accomplish; as, a tough job.
    • Tough Having the quality of flexibility without brittleness; yielding to force without breaking; capable of resisting great strain; as, the ligaments of animals are remarkably tough . "Tough roots and stubs."
    • Tough Not easily broken; able to endure hardship; firm; strong; -- of objects and people; as, tough sinews. "A body made of brass, the crone demands, . . . Tough to the last, and with no toil to tire.""The basis of his character was caution combined with tough tenacity of purpose."
    • Tough Not easily separated; viscous; clammy; tenacious; as, tough phlegm.
    • Tough Prone to aggressive or violent behavior; rowdyish; -- of people, or groups; as, a tough neighborhood; a tough character.
    • Tough Severe; violent; as, a tough storm. "A tough debate."
    • Tough Stiff; rigid; not flexible; stubborn; as, a tough bow. "So tough a frame she could not bend."
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
  • Interesting fact: As artists and traders in medieval cities began to form organizations, they instituted tough initiation ceremonies. For example, journeymen in Bergen, Norway, were shoved down a chimney, thrown three times into the sea, and soundly whipped.
    • tough 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.
    • tough Firm; strong; able to endure hardship, hard work, or ill usage; hardy; not easily broken or impaired.
    • tough Not easily separated; tenacious; stiff; ropy; viscous: as, a tough clay; tough phlegm.
    • tough Not easily influenced; unyielding; stubborn; hardened; incorrigible.
    • tough Hard to manage or accomplish; difficult; trying; requiring great or continued effort.
    • tough Severe; violent: as, a tough rebuke or tirade; a tough storm.
    • n tough A rough; a bully; an incorrigibly vicious fellow; a bad character.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: The tips of fingers and the soles of feet are covered by a thick, tough layer of skin called the stratum corneum.
    • adj Tough tuf not easily broken: firm: stiff, viscous, sticky: stubborn, hard to manage, trying: violent: tenacious: able to endure hardship
    • n Tough a rough, a bully
    • v.t Tough to make or become tough
    • ***


  • Ching Ning Chu
    Ching Ning Chu
    “It is not whether your words or actions are tough or gentle; it is the spirit behind your actions and words that announces your inner state.”
  • Robert H. Schuller
    “Tough times never last, but tough people do.”
  • Source Unknown
    Source Unknown
    “We need tough days to drive us to our knees.”
  • John McEnroe
    John McEnroe
    “I think it's the mark of a great player to be confident in tough situations.”
  • Mike Ditka
    Mike Ditka
    “You have to be tough.”
  • Wilson Mizner
    “Life is a tough proposition and the first hundred years are the hardest.”


Tough as old boots - Something or someone that is as tough as old boots is strong and resilient.
Tough cookie - A tough cookie is a person who will do everything necessary to achieve what they want.
Tough luck - Tough luck is bad luck.
Tough nut to crack - If something is a tough nut to crack, it is difficult to find the answer or solution. When used about a person, it means that it is difficult to get them to do or allow what you want. 'Hard nut to crack' is an alternative.
Tough row to hoe - (USA) A tough row to hoe is a situation that is difficult to handle. ('A hard row to hoe' is an alternative form.)


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
OE. tough, AS. tōh, akin to D. taai, LG. taa, tage, tau, OHG. zāhi, G. zähe, and also to AS. getenge, near to, close to, oppressive, OS. bitengi,


In literature:

The masts were tough, and bent like willow wands.
"The Rival Crusoes" by W.H.G. Kingston
Them boys pushin' the prisoners back there sure has it tough.
"Ride Proud, Rebel!" by Andre Alice Norton
He's been a tough case.
"The Heart of Unaga" by Ridgwell Cullum
It must have been tough to grow up without a home.
"Jewel Weed" by Alice Ames Winter
Most of the Executives were tough-minded, realistic men.
"Anything You Can Do ..." by Gordon Randall Garrett
There was five in the flock, but the other looked like a tough old hen.
"The Snowshoe Trail" by Edison Marshall
The old oak rib was tough as well as bulky.
"Blow The Man Down" by Holman Day
For most, there were those tough courses at Tech.
"The Planet Strappers" by Raymond Zinke Gallun
Then she grasped a tough branch just over her head.
"The Tree-Dwellers" by Katharine Elizabeth Dopp
Back of the ropes near first base a tough-looking crowd of Wellsburgans greeted the professionals with a cheer.
"Frank Merriwell's Son" by Burt L. Standish

In poetry:

Locust trees are sorry shade,
They are good enough;
Locust trees are sweet in spring
For trees so old and tough.
"Under The Locusts" by John Crowe Ransom
Do I have it, or is it gone?
Do I still belong? Can I bluff?
Suppose he turns schoolboy-tough?
Oh, it's all too much!
"He'S AboutT 22, I'm 63" by Helene M Johnson
Austere in taste, and tough at core,
Its unrelenting bulk was shed,
To ripen in the Pilgrim’s store
When all the summer sweets were fled.
"The New Eden" by Oliver Wendell Holmes
You know they wouldn't kill
you. Just playing rough,
like young Americans will.
Still it taught me somthing
about love. If it's so tough,
forget it.
"Blues" by Derek Walcott
That makes it tough, woh so tough
When you tell me you don't love me
That makes it tough oh, oh so tough whoa-oh
When you say you don't care for me no more
"That Makes It Tough" by Buddy Holly
And that makes it tough, oh so tough
When you tell me you don't love me
That makes it tough oh, oh so tough mm-mm-mm-mm whoa-oh
When you say you don't care for me no more
Mm mm mm mm-mm mm-mm mm mm mm
"That Makes It Tough" by Buddy Holly

In news:

And dancing in high heels is tough – so we hear.
Tough Deadlines for Chrysler, GM.
"One thing you can't question about Nate is his toughness," defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said.
Giving something as personal as glasses can be tough, but Warby will send up to five frames for a five-day test-wear.
Another tough day for Auburn coach Gene Chizik.
She's going through a tough time, and God bless her.
Bush Talks Tough On North Korea.
Were the NCAA sanction too tough or just enough.
One local veteran is having a tough time moving around his home.
Romney's tough talk was just a birthday present for Putin.
COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — Gregory "Pappy" Boyington's last battle was tough, but he prevailed because fellow Marines had his back.
Tough road for Packers' top pick.
Frederick to review law after 'Tough Mudder' boondoggle.
When outsourcing almost forced Cabot Hosiery Mills to shut its doors, Darn Tough Vermont Socks was born, reinventing the company.
Obama talks tough in Today Show interview.

In science:

Usually, one wants to consider how tough a network can be, for the connection of a set of vertices.
On the generalized (edge-)connectivity of graphs
The requirement that this bond survive 100 million pulses over the 9 months of operation leads to a design choice of Zirconia Toughed Alumina.
Prototyping of the ILC Baseline Positron Target
The toughness of G, denoted by τ (G), is the maximum value of t for which G is t-tough (taking τ (Kn ) = ∞ for all n > 1).
A survey on the generalized connectivity of graphs
Hence, obtaining of the bialgebra and Manin triple becomes rather a tough job.
Poisson-Lie T-Duality and Bianchi Type Algebras
The measurement of direct photons is even more tough, due to the overwhelming background from π ◦ and η decay photons.
Experimental Conference Summary