adj. tough·er, tough·est
1. Able to withstand great strain without tearing or breaking; strong and resilient: a tough all-weather fabric.
2. Hard to cut or chew: tough meat.
a. Physically hardy; rugged: tough mountaineers; a tough cop.
b. Strong-minded; resolute: a tough negotiator.
a. Aggressive; pugnacious.
b. Inclined to violent or disruptive behavior; rowdy or rough: a tough street group.
a. Difficult to endure; severe; harsh: a tough winter.
b. Trying or unpleasant: had a tough day.
c. Difficult to deal with; demanding or troubling: It's tough to go to school and work a full-time job. The exam had many tough questions.
d. Informal Unfortunate; too bad: It was a tough break to get sick on the day of the concert.
6. Slang Fine; great.
A violent or rowdy person; a hoodlum or thug.
Used to indicate recalcitrance or noncompliance with a complaint or demand.
tough it out Slang
To get through despite hardship; endure: "It helps if one was raised to tough it out" (Gail Sheehy).
[Middle English, from Old English tōh.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.