Definition of toughen in US English:



  • 1Make or become tougher.

    with object ‘he tried to toughen his son up by sending him to public school’
    no object ‘if removed from the oven too soon meringues shrink and toughen’
    • ‘He said the club uses safety glasses, which are toughened like windscreens, so if they smash there are no sharp edges.’
    • ‘Because of its low fat content, goat meat will lose moisture and can toughen quickly if exposed to high temperatures and dry cooking methods.’
    • ‘As the creatures age and their meat toughens they lose up to 70% of their market value, leaving Scottish shepherds facing an agonising wait.’
    • ‘She really toughened up and started bunking off school and acting up.’
    • ‘My secret thoughts on it were that some of these prickly, prissy dons really needed toughening up.’
    • ‘Magee, by contrast, has been concentrating on toughening up his torso against the expected ferocious onslaught to his ribs from Hatton, who has knocked out several opponents with hooks to the body.’
    • ‘But after The Big Breakfast she had toughened up and developed a more ruthless survivalist streak.’
    • ‘But here, as near as I can see, are a group of candidates, most of whom have a clear argument and set of ideas about rebuilding, reshaping and generally toughening up the Democratic party.’
    • ‘Just when I thought I was getting myself straightened out and toughened up with the proper contractor mindset, along comes something like this.’
    • ‘Best practice would be to fit five point door bolts, make sure any glass in doors is toughened to make it harder to smash, fit security lighting and lock away any garden equipment that could be used to break into a property.’
    • ‘Buni was raised by bunny-girls, dragged out of the closet by pop stars, and toughened up by the Royal Navy before coming to Nottingham as a mature student.’
    • ‘Most of the foals we saw here will be taken to Bazy's Hat Ranch in northern Arizona to be turned out on large acreage where they can toughen up and develop strong bones and feet.’
    • ‘If you're a conservative and you're gratified that the administration seems unfettered by political correctness in toughening up the nation's defenses, don't be so gratified.’
    • ‘Now I am all for toughening up servicemen - but filling them full of this sort of disrespectful propaganda is really beyond the pale.’
    • ‘Hopefully they will have toughened up a bit before it arrives…’
    • ‘Instead it gives the audience small doses of emotion and hastily toughens up the typical abused young woman.’
    • ‘Good quality glass skins are toughened for impact resistance and treated to filter out ultra violet and infra red rays.’
    • ‘Iron gives a great colour but also toughens up the grass.’
    • ‘We had to toughen our legs and hands - like iron, then they became true weapons.’
    • ‘Transport chiefs have backed a university study aimed at toughening up Greater Manchester's bus shelters.’
    strengthen, fortify, reinforce, harden, stiffen, consolidate, temper, season, rigidify, thicken, coarsen
    harden, fortify, strengthen, give strength to, steel, harshen, make resilient
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    1. 1.1with object Make (rules or a policy) stricter and more harsh.
      ‘new congressional efforts to toughen the laws’
      • ‘But the NFL has toughened the rules for expansion teams since then, making it more difficult to load up on players from the get-go.’
      • ‘This year, pro-choice activists rallied with greater urgency than usual, feeling that a Republican White House and Congress will toughen abortion laws.’
      • ‘The city reduced industrial pollutants, started to convert to diesel, emphasized the treatment of domestic sewage, cleaned up streets and toughened pollution laws.’
      • ‘We have increased the numbers of police to record numbers, toughened the law on everything from rape to benefit fraud.’
      • ‘He favours an approach that would toughen regulations on internet service providers, which are already obliged to filter out offensive material.’
      • ‘The Government will toughen the rules on broadcast advertising of alcohol to tackle binge drinking, and work with the drinks industry through a voluntary scheme.’
      • ‘Or, failing that humane step, eliminate the jobs for undocumented workers by toughening the law on hiring - and arresting employers who violate the law.’
      • ‘She said that more order must be established in the adoption system to prevent deaths and that her committee was drafting amendments to the Criminal Code and the Family Code that would toughen the rules for adoptions by foreigners.’
      • ‘We have demonstrated that this continues to be a priority by toughening the laws on illegal weapons, air guns and replicas.’
      • ‘As I outlined in answer to an earlier supplementary question, the current legislation has toughened the law in this regard.’
      • ‘Their rejection comes despite plans in England, unveiled last week, to toughen the law, giving householders the right to take on burglars without fear of prosecution.’
      • ‘The Home Office confirmed that provisions to toughen the gun laws could be added to the Criminal Justice and Sentencing Bill currently before Parliament.’
      • ‘And Leeds North West Labour MP Harold Best also believes there is a case for toughening the rules.’
      • ‘Coupled with steps taken this week to toughen gun laws, the move is seen as an effort to get new legislation on the books ahead of federal elections in September.’
      • ‘Ironically, in an era where global trade is trying to achieve unrestricted expansion, these recommendations will toughen border regulations.’
      • ‘Some 80% of voters had rejected a second proposal by an anti-abortion coalition to toughen the rules on abortion, the survey said.’
      • ‘How does the proposed amendment toughen the law to prevent the defendant simply saying that he or she thought the other person was over 16?’
      • ‘He could also pressure the state's congressional delegation to toughen the federal law.’
      • ‘It has lobbied against proposals to toughen the law on cold calling and doorstep selling.’
      make stricter, make more severe, toughen up, stiffen, tighten
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