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English definition of “tough”

tough

adjective uk   /tʌf/ us  

tough adjective (STRONG)

B2 strong; not easily broken or made weaker or defeated: These toys are made from tough plastic. Children's shoes need to be tough. You have to be tough to be successful in politics.informal Their lawyer is a real tough customer/nut (= person). C2 strong and determined: Tough new safety standards have been introduced for cars. There have been calls for tougher controls/restrictions on what newspapers are allowed to print. After some tough bargaining, we finally agreed on a deal. I think it's time the police got tougher on/with (= treated more severely) people who drink and drive. The government is continuing to take a tough line on terrorism.

tough adjective (DIFFICULT)

B2 difficult to do or to deal with: They've had an exceptionally tough life. They will be a tough team to beat. The company is going through a tough time at the moment. We've had to make some very tough decisions. My boss has given me a tough job/assignment. Many homeless people are facing a tough winter.

tough adjective (FOOD)

B2 describes food that is difficult to cut or eat: This steak is very tough. These apples have tough skins.

tough adjective (VIOLENT)

likely to be violent or to contain violence; not kind or pleasant: a tough neighbourhood Many of the country's toughest criminals are held in this prison.

tough adjective (UNLUCKY)

C2 informal unlucky: "I've been told I've got to work late today because I'm very behind on my work." "Oh, tough luck!" It's tough on Geoff that he's going to miss the party. informal sometimes used to show that you have no sympathy for someone's problems or difficulties: "I don't have any money left." "Well, (that's just) tough - you shouldn't have spent it all on cigarettes."
toughly
adverb uk   /ˈtʌf.li/ us  
These boots are very toughly (= strongly) made. The newspaper published a toughly worded article about racist behaviour. We live in a toughly competitive world.
toughness
uk   /ˈtʌf.nəs/ us  
C2 She has a reputation for toughness (= being strong and determined). They can't face the toughness of the competition.

tough

noun [C] uk   /tʌf/ (also toughie) mainly US or old-fashioned informal us  
a violent person: Bands of armed toughs roamed the city.
(Definition of tough from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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