Definition of toughness in US English:



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

    ‘the toughness of steel’
    • ‘Drying the basket in the sun increased the toughness of the material and the durability of the basket.’
    • ‘Nickel is able to improve the toughness of iron carbon alloys.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The fibers were added to increase the toughness of the pavement.’
    1. 1.1 The quality of being difficult to cut or chew.
      ‘gristle contributes to the toughness of meat’
      • ‘The leaves have to be soaked before use to soften their toughness.’
      • ‘There's been a reduction in our posterior tooth size due to reduction generally in the toughness of foods.’
      • ‘She had initially gone to complain about the toughness of the kidneys.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 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’
    • ‘To survive in a prison system for 40 years, there has to be some toughness to him.’
    • ‘A certain toughness of character is suggested by his willingness to take on the more complex role of artistic director.’
    • ‘The Olympics would test the psychological toughness of the individual athletes.’
    • ‘There was a toughness about him which made him make light of illnesses most of us would make a fuss about.’
    • ‘As a former miner, his innate toughness saw him survive horrific chest injuries.’
    • ‘He lacked the mental toughness necessary to compete at the highest level.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Finishing a marathon is more about mental toughness than it is about physical preparation.’
    • ‘Leaders mostly get tested on emotional toughness.’
    • ‘Her appearance belies her toughness.’
    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’
      • ‘Don't underestimate the toughness of the hills in the last 6 miles of the race.’
      • ‘I have never underestimated the toughness of the job.’
      • ‘There is no escaping the toughness of the task.’
      • ‘The brutal toughness of the training resulted in many fatalities.’
      • ‘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.’
    • ‘He begins listing examples of his administration's toughness on the country in trade disputes.’
    • ‘Many want to project toughness on terrorism.’
    • ‘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’
    • ‘He proved his toughness by suffering a busted nose.’
    • ‘The team loves his toughness and nastiness.’
    • ‘They have earned a reputation for their toughness.’
    • ‘They were also 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.’