Adjective "Tough" definition and examples



Definitions and examples


(of a substance or object) strong enough to withstand adverse conditions or rough handling.
  1. 'Occasionally someone would get hit in the foot or leg, but school shoe leather was tough and the last thing you'd do was report any mishaps.'
  2. 'The balls used in boccia are mainly made of tough leather and filled with a grain-like substance.'
  3. 'The ground began shacking with such great force, not even the lifeless roots obscured in the grey soil were tough enough to hold up their dying masters.'
  4. 'In early 1943 two American professors discovered that a very tough material could be produced by adding a small amount of wood pulp to water before freezing.'
  5. 'Stainless steel is a tough metal and does not rust, but it's harder to sharpen.'
  6. 'The Aldgate train was the standard London model, built of a tough steel frame upon which aluminium bodywork is bolted firmly down.'
  7. 'The handle is made of G-l0, a tough material favored by tactical knife makers.'
  8. 'African rice is tough enough to fight drought, but many west African farmers abandoned the variety in favour of Asian strains that produce more grains per plant.'
  9. 'But cement is exceptionally tough and not very porous and its use at Fountains has essentially reversed this process.'
  10. 'He knows just how to make tight leggings, rough, tough leathers and plush cashmere absolutely dazzling.'
  11. 'the hastily prepared steak was tough'
  12. 'The pigs' apprehension about being eaten results in tough meat, which is why pork no longer tastes good.'
  13. 'The meat is still tough and not as palatable as typical American cuisine, but it's also not that bad.'
  14. 'She chewed on the cooked piece of tough meat that had been in the saddlebag, not pausing to wonder how it had gotten there.'
  15. 'The meat was a little tough, but the flavour, infused with lemon, was delicious, a light meat somewhere between lamb and beef.'
  16. 'One or two are so contorted that poor old Lawson, who is a consummate professional, looks like he has been compelled to chew on a tough piece of sirloin and then spit it out in public.'
  17. 'I have a headache, and all I've had to chew on are these infernal, tough pieces of salt meat.'
  18. 'She says it was slippery and she could not cut it with a knife. She took it in her hand and placed it in her mouth, but the ‘meat’ was so tough she could not bite through it.'
  19. 'The man brought dry cheese, more water, and a hunk of tough meat that tasted more than a little rancid.'
  20. 'The lamb cutlet was also tough: though served quite rare, it was uncuttable, unchewable and tasteless.'
  21. 'Recipes from regions where tough meat is the norm often call for a marinade made with fruit or juice.'
Able to endure hardship or pain.
  1. 'But Duncan came from the generation before the welfare state, when to survive at all you had to be as tough as old boots - and he was.'
  2. 'Happily, Russian skaters tend to be tough as old boots.'
  3. 'I am, in fact, either as tough as old boots, or as soft as a particularly fluffy bunny, depending on who you ask, and when.'
  4. 'And, you know, he was a tough priest who was sympathetic, but you know, I think he was used to tragedy.'
  5. 'It was strange because in contrast my Nan was as tough as old boots; she just had a tendency to say insane things.'
  6. 'To have to go through that family scandal and still be a sweet, genuine person - how tough she was to endure that.'
  7. 'Finally there is the underlying truth that Carol is as tough as old boots, and frankly, as sexy as a Sherman tank.'
  8. 'He's a tough old bastard, and he's pulled through things like this before.'
  9. 'Another point I make in About Face was that I had learned about war from tough old sergeants and captains who had fought the big war.'
  10. 'They are a tough, resilient and uncomplaining people (as I saw first hand in the casualty areas in 1974).'
  11. 'he liked editors who were tough enough to make the grade'
  12. 'The girls were very tough and demonstrated their excellent skills and the only fair decision after three great rounds was a draw.'
  13. 'I saw the older men trying to demonstrate they were still tough and able.'
  14. 'Brees is smart, tough and had the confidence of his teammates after leading them to 20 wins over the last two years.'
  15. 'A track for tough cars and tough drivers, it tests every component and every sinew to the limit and few pass with flying colours.'
  16. 'She is young and tough, the servants respect her, and everything is in impeccable order.'
  17. 'Clarence Moore fills various roles, from perimeter shooter to tough defender to solid rebounder.'
  18. 'Despite losing his round to an older competitor the tough tot's family said he would not be deterred.'
  19. 'He is smart, tough and instinctual, but a lack of speed hurts him in coverage.'
  20. 'Brunson is a tough defender and solid passer, attributes coach Bill Cartwright seeks.'
  21. 'She needed to be tough, and sympathy would only throw her off guard.'
  22. 'It was a tough match and we're just glad to have come out of it okay.'
  23. 'It was a fair, tough match and the referee had little or nothing to do.'
  24. 'Also: finishing a tough job requires that you draw your hand theatrically across your brow.'
  25. 'I think acting is tough, as it requires great mental discipline.'
  26. 'This will require tough decisions that cannot be ducked.'
  27. 'But it was big job, a very tough assignment that required major cultural changes.'
  28. 'I suppose it will follow that pattern, but it will require some very tough work.'
  29. 'It was a tough match, which provided excitement up to the very end with the result being a deserved draw for both sides.'
  30. 'This was a very tough, exciting match and at half time we were down 2 tries.'
  31. 'It will be a tough match and to be honest I think Ireland will struggle to win the Championship as Wales have already done the business against both the English and the French.'
  32. 'Poor kid. It's tough on her'
  33. 'There's a couple of times where she's gone to school and she's just in floods of tears and yeah it's really tough on them.'
  34. 'He said it was tough on students for whom it was the last day of their exams.'
  35. 'He said it is very tough on Irish students who need up to 570 points to get medicine and may miss out by just 15 or 20 points.'
  36. 'It was tough on Pres Milltown who gave it everything but they just gave St Pats too big a lead and had little luck with marginal decisions.'
  37. 'It was tough on the Frenchman, who made no contact with Douglas.'
  38. 'It turns out it's a lot of work and very tough on the staff.'
  39. 'It is tough on her, because everyone puts so much emphasis on the past and right now is the future.'
  40. 'One of the worst, as any politician will attest, is that it is very tough on families.'
  41. 'The nation's 40th chief executive knew it would be tough on the light of his life.'
  42. 'I called her every night from New York and I'm sure it was extremely tough on her to hear me, not normally an emotional person, sobbing every night.'
Demonstrating a strict and uncompromising approach.
  1. 'tough new laws on tobacco advertising'
  2. 'Many thought so and believed that New Zealand, a tough and uncompromising side would provide a much sterner examination.'
  3. 'It was in that role that Howard chiselled out a reputation for being tough and uncompromising.'
  4. 'The noises coming from the ombudsman's office suggest the guidance, which is currently being written, will be fairly tough on companies.'
  5. 'They're very tough on executive privilege in general, and on the flow of information more broadly than that.'
  6. 'We'll be tough on fraud, and there is fraud, and we have to go after it.'
  7. 'North Yorkshire Police said that while they were not holding a specific campaign this summer, they would still be tough on drink-drivers.'
  8. 'Colchester police have launched a new tough approach on people begging in the town, which a spokesman said should solve the problem faced by shopkeepers.'
  9. 'If criminal activity is taking place we will take a tough approach to drive it from our streets.'
  10. 'He is every bit as tough on his Conservative and Liberal Democrat interviewees as he is on New Labour and its supporters.'
  11. 'This appraisal is as tough, uncompromising and brutally simplistic as many of Brogden's law-and-order policies.'
  12. 'If what they did is within the parameters of the law, then tough for her she should have known better.'
Strong and prone to violence.
  1. 'Sarah was a tough girl, muscular even, very strong and with a real hot temperament.'
  2. 'He was a tall, muscular man, obviously tough and afraid of nothing.'
  3. 'Outside the town centre pubs, tough young men and women in vests, jeans and tattoos were giving each other the thumbs up and cackling with glee.'
  4. 'A group of teenagers thinking they were tough, accosted us in an alley.'
  5. 'He looks like a tough young man to me… Just wondering here, William, but who exactly are these kids?'
  6. 'Gilbart was still very strong and tough - the bulging muscles and calloused hands proved this.'
  7. 'Galvin's characters jump off the page at you whether he is describing a tough young cop like Fox or ‘Beano’ his snout.'
  8. 'While all agree he is tough and prone to losing his temper, there is almost universal respect for his abilities as a soldier.'
  9. 'In my mind, I saw the tough young man I had met in the cathedral that night.'
  10. 'New Russian is a euphemism for black-market pimp, smuggler, gangster, any tough young man with capitalist cash, and there are lots of them.'
  11. 'a tough part of the town'
  12. 'I have been proud of those ministers in our diocese who have willingly moved into tough areas.'
  13. 'When it comes to hard work in tough areas, no one can match him and it's not by accident that Sinn Féin have consistently failed to get a toehold in his area.'
  14. 'He comes from a tough area of the country where dairying, in particular, is making great strides.'
  15. 'This can be a very tough area - yuppies and artists mixing it with the desperate homeless and the families on welfare.'
  16. 'He grew up in a single-parent home in a tough area of Virginia Beach and didn't meet his father until two years ago.'
  17. 'Butch Hays himself came from the tough south central area of Los Angeles.'
  18. 'So it's a very, very tough area that the marines are facing here.'
  19. 'His mother had to move her seven children (Cisse is the youngest) from a pleasant country town to a tough estate in Arles.'
  20. 'Mr Galloway was born and brought up in a tough working-class area of Dundee.'
  21. 'The mother of six grew up in Garryowen - a tough area in Limerick City whose rugby club gave the world the term for hoofing the ball in the air and chasing frantically after it.'


A rough and violent man.
  1. 'Tom Powers and Matt Doyle are two young toughs.'
  2. 'From his ornate hotel room, Kimbrough rules the town through his cohorts, Sheriff Swede Hansen, and his gunslinger Spanish, as well as a gang of local toughs.'
  3. 'When three young toughs assault a bathhouse customer who owes them money, Master Liu stands up to them with quiet dignity.'
  4. 'Joining him are a group of hip, young toughs who thirst for the kind of action that only being a Texas Ranger can offer.'
  5. 'Howson became famous for his vivid depictions of Glasgow street toughs before travelling to Bosnia as the UK's official war artist in 1993.'
  6. 'He told me he was a young tough from the streets of Chicago who heard God's call to be a soldier of Christ.'
  7. 'I would like to begin by dismissing the assertion that the AVC is nothing but a gang of toughs who go about setting fire to kittens and extorting cash from other VUWSA funded activity groups.'
  8. 'A great moment early on: confronted by a gang of toughs upon strolling into town, the samurai calmly taunts them.'
  9. 'Groups of toughs would observe and point out the best actions, or ridicule the softies who couldn't cope.'
  10. 'He has written that academics work more insidiously than the street toughs they effectively team up with on occasion.'
  11. 'In retribution, young toughs from Luay's entourage severely beat and maimed the professor who gave Luay the failing grade and later tried to ambush al-Rawi himself on the street.'
  12. 'One disaster follows another on this, the worst day of Bruce Nolan's life, as he's fired from the station, beaten up by a gang of toughs, who then vandalise his car.'
  13. 'The gang is comprised of good-bad-but-not-evil young toughs defending their neighborhood against a rival crew seeking to introduce the local urchins to the life-affirming wonders of heroin addiction.'
  14. 'It narrates the tale of mid-19th century New York dominated by street toughs, racist gangs, corrupt policemen and politicians.'
  15. 'He didn't want unemployed young toughs handing out street justice.'
  16. 'The sixth is a tough from the East who dresses up like a bad man and plays some low-down trick that gives the boys a bad name.'
  17. 'These falsetto-led odes to love and innocence requiring precise singing were born on street corners among gangs of toughs.'
  18. 'It was exactly seven days later, under the cover of night, that a gang of toughs attacked my brother Saul.'
  19. 'Gangs of toughs no longer use the shop class for a game of craps.'
  20. 'Ken has taken the breakup pretty hard and has since fallen in with a gang of toughs calling themselves the ‘Masters of the Universe’, headed by busty-chested warrior He-Man.'


Endure a period of hardship or difficulty.
  1. 'Her proposal: to tough it out alone at the campsite while I paddled the four days, 16 lakes, and 15 portages to call for a rescue party at the nearest phone.'
  2. 'Have your pain at home, not in the office; show you can tough it out and play the game.'
  3. 'These guys - despite being raised by a monster who supposedly took them on teenage tours of his torture chambers - were patently ill equipped to really tough it out when the chips were down.'
  4. 'I started an octave too high but instead of stopping and beginning again I decided to tough it out and ‘go for it’ by trying to reach the top note of a particularly challenging musical piece.'
  5. 'We've been trying to tough it out but it's difficult to come together in a short space of time under a new coach.'


1. strong and durable; not easily broken or cut.

2. not brittle or tender.

3. difficult to masticate, as food: a tough steak.

4. of viscous consistency, as liquid or semiliquid matter: tough molasses.

5. capable of great endurance; sturdy; hardy: tough troops.

6. not easily influenced, as a person; unyielding; stubborn: a tough man to work for.

7. hardened; incorrigible: a tough criminal.

8. difficult to perform, accomplish, or deal with; hard

More examples(as adjective)

"people can be tough in things."

"people can be tough in/at/on times."

"talks can be tough at points."

"politicians can be tough on people."

"people can be tough on guns."

More examples++


Old English tōh, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch taai and German zäh.


tough shit (or titty)