Definition of tough love in US English:

tough love


  • 1Promotion of a person's welfare, especially that of an addict, child, or criminal, by enforcing certain constraints on them, or requiring them to take responsibility for their actions.

    • ‘Thus, we either let down our minority officers by failing to administer tough love or we retreat into the safety of formal processes.’
    • ‘There's a boy with a silver spoon in his mouth, some best friends who give her support and tough love, a little sister to parent in the absence of a delinquent mother, and poverty.’
    • ‘I thought it was tough love telling him to leave home but I really think it was tougher to go to the police.’
    • ‘But earlier this year I had to put my foot down, and engage in a bit of tough love.’
    • ‘As so often happens, it requires tough love - an intense two-week regimen called constraint-induced movement therapy.’
    • ‘It's alright, tough love is fine. It helps to keep my head on straight.’
    • ‘But the truth is, it needs support and it needs our help and it needs our tough love also, in terms of trying to get it to reform and do the right things.’
    • ‘The traditional image of a hospital matron is of a buxom battle-axe, administering tough love, 1950s style.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, the girls didn't crumple when faced with Richardson's brand of tough love and the Lady Chieftans experienced astonishing growth.’
    • ‘My teaching ethos is to adopt an approach of tough love.’
    • ‘The closest thing my folks got to controlling me was called tough love.’
    • ‘I nearly called the firm Reality Life, because some of what we will be doing is tough love: getting people to think about what they have to do so they can make earlier and better choices.’
    • ‘She gave me a lot of tough love, but I really needed it.’
    • ‘This kind of tough love is particularly important with younger claimants.’
    • ‘Sometimes you have to use tough love to make it happen.’
    • ‘Drug Treatment and Testing Orders are tough love.’
    • ‘Only tough love will cure them of this cancer that grows worse every year.’
    • ‘It may have been tough love, but was it a Christian thing to do to beat children in that way?’
    • ‘Knowing when to use tough love and when to use kid gloves with your players is a decidedly fine distinction, but one that sixth year Warriors coach Eric Ciezar is more than capable of making.’
    • ‘Christianity is about tough love, not love that is sentimental or permissive.’
    1. 1.1North American A political policy designed to encourage self-help by restricting state benefits.
      • ‘In the conservative world view, this is just tough love.’
      • ‘So, Allen asks, Taft is recommending tough love?’
      • ‘And indeed, when tough love means, temporarily, more starving babies, it's hard to get enthusiastic.’


tough love

/ˌtəf ˈləv//ˌtəf ˈləv/