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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.