Skip to main content


tough / təf/ • adj. 1. (of a substance or object) strong enough to withstand adverse conditions or rough or careless handling: tough backpacks for climbers. ∎  (of a person or animal) able to endure hardship or pain; physically robust: even at this ripe old age, he's still as tough as old boots. ∎  able to protect one's own interests or maintain one's own opinions without being intimidated by opposition; confident and determined: she's both sensitive and tough. ∎  demonstrating a strict and uncompromising attitude or approach: police have been getting tough with drivers tough new laws on tobacco advertising. ∎  (of a person) strong and prone to violence: tough young teenagers. ∎  (of an area) notorious for violence and crime. ∎  (of food, esp. meat) difficult to cut or chew. 2. involving considerable difficulty or hardship; requiring great determination or effort: the training has been quite tough he had a tough time getting into a good college. ∎  used to express sympathy with someone in an unpleasant or difficult situation: Poor kid. It's tough on her. ∎  [often as interj.] used to express a lack of sympathy with someone: I feel the way I feel, and if you don't like it, tough. • n. a tough person, esp. a gangster or criminal: young toughs sporting their state-of-the-art firearms. PHRASES: tough it out inf. endure a period of hardship or difficulty. tough shit (or titty) vulgar slang used to express a lack of sympathy with someone.DERIVATIVES: tough·ish adj. tough·ly adv. tough·ness n.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"tough." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . 18 Apr. 2019 <>.

"tough." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . (April 18, 2019).

"tough." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved April 18, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.