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tough - definition and synonyms


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adjective tough pronunciation in American English /tʌf/
Word Forms
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  1. 1

    He’s having a really tough time at the moment.

    It was a tough decision to move overseas.

    Many companies are facing tough competition.

  2. 2
    strong and able to deal with difficult situations or pain

    I think she’ll be all right because she’s very tough.

  3. 4
    very strict and severe

    She’s campaigning for tough new laws on industrial pollution.

    be tough on:

    The new mayor promises to be tough on crime.

    take a tough stance/stand:

    We must take a tough stance against terrorism.

    get tough with (=deal with in a severe way):

    She promised to get tough with speeders.

  4. 6
    difficult to break or damage

    The tool is made from a very tough and resilient steel.

  5. 8
    a tough place is one in which there is a lot of crime and violence

    He grew up in a tough inner-city neighborhood.

  6. From our crowdsourced Open Dictionary
    a tough get something or someone that is not easy to find, especially because there is a great demand for them

    A good teacher of Chinese is a tough get at the moment.

    Submitted by Boris Marchenko from Russian Federation on 25/11/2014

derived words




noun [uncountable]

An athlete needs to show both physical and mental toughness.



used to describe something which is done more carefully and over a longer period of time …

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Open Dictionary


the practice of giving birth in the presence of several friends and relatives

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