From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary Englishtoughtough1 /tʌf/ ●●● S2 W2 adjective (comparative tougher, superlative toughest) 1 difficultDIFFICULT difficult to do or deal with It 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 something It’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 difficult2 strong personSTRONG PERSON physically or emotionally strong and able to deal with difficult situations The 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 determined3 strong materialSTRONG OBJECT not easily broken or made weaker tough, durable plastic a very tough, hard-wearing cloth► see thesaurus at strong4 strict/firmDETERMINEDSTRICT very strict or firmtough on/with My 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 strict5 violent areaVIOLENT a tough part of a town has a lot of crime or violencetough neighborhood/area/part of town etc a tough area of Chicago6 → tough!/that’s tough!7 → tough luck!8 → tough shit!9 violent personVIOLENT likely to behave violently and having no gentle qualities one of football’s most notorious tough guys tough young thugs looking for trouble10 foodDFHARD difficult to cut or eat opp tender The 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]
Examples from the Corpustough• Westinghouse last week adopted a poisonpill plan to make any takeover attempt tougher.• Being the new kid at school is always tough.• I know she's only a kid, but she's tough.• Times were tough and jobs scarce in 1936, and it proved necessary for most young men to land where they could.• The chancellor has got to be tough and keep government spending down.• The chicken was very tough, as though it had not been freshly cooked that day.• As the new version of Navigator goes on sale Friday, Netscape is facing the toughest competition of its young life.• In straitened times, group directors will face tough decisions about allocating resources between divisions.• The box is made of tough durable plastic.• Normal floor paint might not be tough enough for the garage.• The governor is trying to show voters that he's able to deal with the toughest issues facing Ohio today.• Geri's a tough lady.• Opposition leaders are demanding tougher laws against drinking and driving.• a pair of tough leather boots• Archbishop Fisher went so far as to write a very tough letter to the editor in defence of Ramsey.• a tough neighborhood• The federal government is introducing tough new rules to control immigration.• My grandmother was a tough old lady, who lived through some very hard times.• The investigators asked a lot of tough questions.• The judge asked the lawyers on both sides some very tough questions.• He's a good person to be with if ever you're in a tough situation.• His head was probably tougher than a brass doorknob.• In games like this it is more important to be mentally tough, than physically fit.• Many of the veteran players had a tough time adjusting to the coach's style.• The sailors wore jackets made from tough waterproof cotton.• She's quite tough with her students.tough questions• Both sides must confront tough questions.• His eyelids blinked rapidly as he registered the toughest questions.• The appearance is adversarial-tough reporters asking tough questions.• The most conservative justice, Antonin Scalia, was skeptical and asked both prosecutors tough questions.• The Perot crowd here peppered him with tough questions about free trade and wealth, and he rarely stumbled.tough cookie/customer• But he'd take on some one like Glenda Grower, who's a much tougher customer.• But the tough treatment was only for tough customers.• Mr Kinnock is clearly a tough cookie.• Being a dedicated tough cookie, he has delivered the goods in impressive manner.• We're tough cookies here, and so are you.• In general, the provincial circuit is a far tougher cookie than its metropolitan counterpart.• He looks a tough customer to deal with.• Now, women on television are depicted as tough cookies who need a man like a fish needs a trouser press.tough on/with• If Feinstein takes on Lungren, she must have a Washington record of being tough on crime.• And you didn't get tough with Mahoney, because Vecchi killed him himself, so he knows that.• The new year may be even tougher on the embattled ministry.• It's been tough on the kids.• It s going to be tough with this lineup tomorrow.• Mom was always very tough with us kids.• But it is easy to admit that one should have been tougher on what is now the dominant issue.• I was very tough on you, but it worked.tough guys• Two young men in their late teens mugged for the camera, adopting the pose of a couple of affable tough guys.• My boss there was one of the toughest guys I ever hope to meet.• They're just guns for hire: tough guys sent on a job.• It shows the stars can be anything but tough guys when it comes to danger.• Unlike a good many tough guys who made it big in movies, Marvin didn't come from a particularly tough background.• Think of the 10 toughest guys you know.