Topic: FOOD

Language: Old English
Origin: toh


1 adjective
tough1 S2 W3 comparative tougher, superlative toughest


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 English
when 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)

strong 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.

strong material

not easily broken or made weaker:
tough, durable plastic
a very tough, hard-wearing cloth


very strict or firm
tough 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.

violent area

a tough part of a town has a lot of crime or violence

tough!/that's tough!

spoken used when you do not have any sympathy with someone:
'I'm getting wet.' 'Tough! You should've brought your umbrella.'
She didn't tell us she was coming, so if this screws up her plans that's just tough.

tough luck!

a) used when you do not have any sympathy for someone's problems:
Well, that's just their tough luck! It was their mistake.
b) British English used when you feel sympathy about something bad that has happened to someone:
You didn't get the job? Oh, tough luck!

tough shit!

spoken not polite used when you do not have any sympathy for someone's problems

violent person

likely to behave violently and having no gentle qualities:
one of football's most notorious tough guys
tough young thugs looking for trouble


DF difficult to cut or eat [≠ tender]:
The meat was tough and hard to chew.
the tough outer leaves of the cabbage

tough love

a way of helping someone to change their behaviour by treating them in a kind but strict way
toughly adverb
toughness noun [uncountable]
hard and not bending: solid, firm, stiff, rigid

meat that is too hard: tough

skin that is old and hard: leathery, calloused

hard and easily broken: brittle

See also
WORD FOCUS: difficult WORD FOCUS: difficult
difficult to do: hard, tough, challenging, daunting

difficult and needing a lot of physical effort: tough, strenuous, back-breaking, gruelling, arduous, punishing

difficult to deal with or talk about: tricky, awkward, delicate, sensitive, touchy

words for describing a difficult person: awkward, trying

words for describing difficult conditions: adverse, hostile

See also
WORD FOCUS: strong WORD FOCUS: strong
person: tough, muscular, wiry, powerful

thing: tough, sturdy, durable, rugged, heavy-duty, indestructible, well-made, robust

country/organization: powerful, mighty, influential, dominant

See also

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