tough Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo
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Meaning of “tough” in the English Dictionary

"tough" in British English

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toughadjective

uk   /tʌf/  us   /tʌf/
  • tough adjective (STRONG)

B2 strong; not ​easilybroken 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 ​safetystandards have been ​introduced for ​cars. There have been ​calls for tougher ​controls/​restrictions on what ​onlineretailers are ​allowed to ​sell. After some tough ​bargaining, we ​finallyagreed 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.

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  • tough adjective (DIFFICULT)

B2 difficult to do or to ​deal with: They've had an ​exceptionally tough ​life. They will be a tough ​team tobeat. 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 ​homelesspeople are ​facing a tough winter.

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  • tough adjective (UNLUCKY)

C2 informal unlucky: "I have 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 ​moneyleft." "Well, (that's just) tough - you shouldn't have ​spent it all on ​cigarettes."
toughly
adverb uk   /ˈtʌf.li/  us   /ˈtʌf.li/
These ​boots are very toughly (= ​strongly) made. The ​newspaperpublished a toughly ​wordedarticle about ​racistbehaviour. We ​live in a toughly competitiveworld.
toughness
uk   /ˈtʌf.nəs/  us   /ˈtʌf.nəs/
C2 She has a ​reputation for toughness (= being ​strong and ​determined). They can't ​face the toughness of the competition.

toughnoun [C]

uk   /tʌf/  us   /tʌf/ (also toughie) old-fashioned informal
(Definition of tough from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"tough" in American English

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toughadjective [-er/-est only]

 us   /tʌf/
not ​easilybroken, weakened, or ​defeated; ​strong: These ​toys are made of tough ​plastic. You have to be tough to be ​successful in ​politics. The ​police are getting tougher on ​illegalparking.
Results or ​actions that are tough are ​severe and ​determined: Tough new ​safetystandards for ​cars are being ​introduced this ​week.
difficult to do or ​deal with: They will be a tough ​team to ​beat. We’ve had to make some very tough ​decisions. It’s going to be a tough ​winter.
Food that is tough is ​difficult to ​cut or ​eat: a tough ​steak
likely to be ​violent or to ​containviolence: a tough ​guy a tough ​neighborhood
(Definition of tough from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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