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)
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.
not easily broken or made weaker:
tough, durable plastic
a very tough, hard-wearing cloth
very strict or firm
The EU is taking a tough line with the UK over this issue.
a tough part of a town has a lot of crime or violence
tough neighborhood/area/part of town etc
a tough area of Chicago
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.
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!
8 spoken not polite
used when you do not have any sympathy for someone's problems
likely to behave violently and having no gentle qualities:
one of football's most notorious tough guys
tough young thugs looking for trouble
difficult to cut or eat [≠ tender]:
The meat was tough and hard to chew.
the tough outer leaves of the cabbage
a way of helping someone to change their behaviour by treating them in a kind but strict way
—toughness noun [uncountable]WORD FOCUS: hard
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 hardWORD 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 difficultWORD FOCUS: strong
person: tough, muscular, wiry, powerful
thing: tough, sturdy, durable, rugged, heavy-duty, indestructible, well-made, robust
country/organization: powerful, mighty, influential, dominantstrong
➔ See also strong