Main Difference – Tuff vs. Tough
When describing something, tough means hard and strong; it means, the object is able to endure hardships. When describing something, tuff means, the object is stylish or cool; it might imply the qualities like attractiveness, stubbornness, etc.
Tuff and tough are homonyms, i.e. they have similar pronunciations. However, they cannot be used interchangeably, as there is a difference between their meanings. This article attempts to highlight the difference between tuff and tough in order to analyze this difference in depth.
Tough – Meaning and Usage
The word tough is said to be derived from the Dutch term ‘taai’. This word can be seen as an adjective, noun and adverb, but is commonly used as an adjective. In a general sense, tough means strong and hard. Given below are some meanings and examples to explain the usage of this word.
Tough, as adjective, implies,
Hard, strong and durable, when describing a substance or object.
“He wanted it to be made out from a tough material.”
“Tough, elastic fibers covered its surface.”
Difficult to chew (when describing food)
“The hastily cooked steak was tough.”
Able to endure pain, hardships
“The old man was tough as old boots.”
Unyielding, stubborn, Strong and prone to violence
“He is a tough man to live with.”
Demonstrating a strict and rigid approach
“You have to be tough with children.”
Express sympathy when someone is in a difficult situation
“Poor girl, it’s tough on her.”
“It’s tough losing a father.”
Tough as an Adverb
As an adverb, tough is used in the meaning of “in a tough manner.”
Tough as a Noun
In informal language, Noun tough refers to a rowdy or a ruffian.
“He was beaten by a gang of toughs from Queens.”
Tuff – Meaning and Usage
Tuff as a Slang
Tuff is sometimes used as a slang for tough. In slang, the word tuff means stylish, unique and cool.
“She is a tuff gal.”
“You ain’t tuff, and you never will be.”
In slang, tuff also means stylish, unique and cool.
“Yo, that song is tuff.”
Meaning of Tuff in Geology
In Geology, tuff also refers to a light, porous rock made from compacted volcanic ash.
“Tuff and travertine are calcareous deposits found in volcanic districts.”
“Like the rest of the cluster, the island is of volcanic origin, with tuff, trachyte and obsidian among its ordinary rocks.”
Difference Between Tuff and Tough
Describing an object
Tough: When describing an object, tough means hard and strong.
Tuff: When describing an object, tuff means stylish or cool.
Tough: When describing people, tough means ‘able to endure hardships’ or ‘have determination and confidence to handle difficult situation’.
Tuff: When describing people, tuff might imply the qualities like attractiveness, stubbornness, etc.
As a Noun
Tough: As a noun, tough refers to a ruffian
Tuff: As a noun, tuff refers to a rock composed of volcanic ashes.
Tough: Tough is used in formal and informal usage.
Tuff: Tuff is mostly used in slang.
tuff. (n.d.). Retrieved August 21st, 2015, from