Definition of toughness in US English:



  • 1The state of being strong enough to withstand adverse conditions or rough handling.

    ‘the toughness of steel’
    • ‘Nickel is able to improve the toughness of iron carbon alloys.’
    • ‘The fibers were added to increase the toughness of the pavement.’
    • ‘The toughness of antler makes it ideal for making the handles to knives and other tools.’
    • ‘Solution heat treatment improves strength and results in maximum toughness and shock resistance.’
    • ‘Drying the basket in the sun increased the toughness of the material and the durability of the basket.’
    1. 1.1 The quality of being difficult to cut or chew.
      ‘gristle contributes to the toughness of meat’
      • ‘She had initially gone to complain about the toughness of the kidneys.’
      • ‘There's been a reduction in our posterior tooth size due to reduction generally in the toughness of foods.’
      • ‘High proportions of connective tissue increase the toughness of meat.’
      • ‘The sandwich was fine, but incredibly hard to eat due to the toughness of the bacon.’
      • ‘The leaves have to be soaked before use to soften their toughness.’
  • 2The ability to deal with hardship or to cope in difficult situations.

    ‘they showed great mental toughness to keep going’
    ‘he lacks toughness and resolve’
    • ‘He lacked the mental toughness necessary to compete at the highest level.’
    • ‘As a former miner, his innate toughness saw him survive horrific chest injuries.’
    • ‘To survive in a prison system for 40 years, there has to be some toughness to him.’
    • ‘Her appearance belies her toughness.’
    • ‘A certain toughness of character is suggested by his willingness to take on the more complex role of artistic director.’
    • ‘Leaders mostly get tested on emotional toughness.’
    • ‘There was a toughness about him which made him make light of illnesses most of us would make a fuss about.’
    • ‘Finishing a marathon is more about mental toughness than it is about physical preparation.’
    • ‘We knew we had the toughness of mind to get back to what we were doing in the first half, which was playing tough, hard rugby and sticking to the game-plan.’
    • ‘The Olympics would test the psychological toughness of the individual athletes.’
    1. 2.1 The state of being difficult and requiring determination or effort.
      ‘I underestimated the toughness of the job’
      ‘the brutal toughness of the training’
      • ‘The brutal toughness of the training resulted in many fatalities.’
      • ‘I have never underestimated the toughness of the job.’
      • ‘Don't underestimate the toughness of the hills in the last 6 miles of the race.’
      • ‘There is no escaping the toughness of the task.’
      • ‘A look at four dilemmas illustrates the toughness of analysis.’
  • 3Demonstration of a strict and uncompromising approach.

    ‘the toughness of the regime was legendary’
    ‘declarations of toughness on crime’
    • ‘Local prosecutors are determined to prove their toughness on crime.’
    • ‘Declarations of toughness on crime are popular.’
    • ‘Many want to project toughness on terrorism.’
    • ‘He begins listing examples of his administration's toughness on the country in trade disputes.’
    • ‘Each time party leaders try to demonstrate their national-security toughness, they run into predictable difficulties.’
  • 4The quality of being strong and prone to violence.

    ‘his reputation for toughness on the street’
    ‘they were known to file their teeth to show their toughness’
    • ‘The dealer then put his gun to his fallen victim's head, securing in an instant his reputation for toughness on the street.’
    • ‘They were also known to file their teeth to show their toughness.’
    • ‘He proved his toughness by suffering a busted nose.’
    • ‘They have earned a reputation for their toughness.’
    • ‘The team loves his toughness and nastiness.’