(1)   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"
(2)   Substantially made or constructed
"Sturdy steel shelves"
"Sturdy canvas"
"A tough all-weather fabric"
"Some plastics are as tough as metal"
(3)   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"
(4)   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"
(5)   Unfortunate or hard to bear
"Had hard luck"
"A tough break"
(6)   Resistant to cutting or chewing
(7)   Physically toughened
"The tough bottoms of his feet"
(8)   Not given to gentleness or sentimentality
"A tough character"
(9)   Violent and lawless
"The more ruffianly element"
"Tough street gangs"


(10)   A cruel and brutal fellow
(11)   An aggressive and violent young criminal
(12)   Someone who learned to fight in the streets rather than being formally trained in the sport of boxing


  1. strong and resilient; sturdy
    The tent, made of tough canvas, held up to many abuses.
  2. difficult to cut or chew
    To soften a tough cut of meat, the recipe suggested simmering it for hours.
  3. rugged or physically hardy
    Only a tough species will survive in the desert.
  4. Stubborn.
    He had a reputation as a tough negotiator.
  5. harsh or severe
  6. rowdy or rough.
    A bunch of the tough boys from the wrong side of the tracks threatened him.
  7. difficult or demanding
    This is a tough crowd.
  8. Undergoing plastic deformation before breaking.


  1. If you don't like it, tough!


  1. A person who obtains things by force; a thug or bully.
    They were doing fine until they encountered a bunch of toughs from the opposition.