Rough vs Tough

黄泉导游

New Member
Chinese-China
referring to the dictionary,"rough " and "tough" have the similar meaning "violent,use much force" , is there any distinction between these two words when they are used for this meaning(violent,use much force)?
for instances:
I'm always seasick if the wind is (rough/tough).
They (roughly/toughly) pushed her forward.
a (tough/rough) guy.
American football is a (rough/tough) game at the best of times.
 
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  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I'm always seasick when the waves are rough.
    They roughly pushed her forward.
    He was a rough guy. He was a tough guy. He was a round, tough guy.
    American football is a rough game at the best of times.
    (I think this would be more usual than "tough," but "tough" meaning difficult could be used.)

    Don't think that "rough" and "tough" are synonyms. Try looking them up in the Search box, which will take you to two dictionaries (three, actually – two Random House editions). Also realize that some usages you'll get have to memorize because they are common collocations.
     

    bennymix

    Senior Member
    referring to the dictionary,"rough " and "tough" have the similar meaning "violent,use much force" , is there any distinction between these two words?
    for instances:
    I'm always seasick if the wind is (rough/tough).
    They (roughly/toughly) pushed her forward.
    a (tough/rough) guy.
    American football is a (rough/tough) game at the best of times.
    Despite possible overlap, it's possible to say, "The boy plays rough, but is not so tough. He cried when he skinned his knee."

    "It was a rough football game, but most of the players weren't tough at all, and limped off the field at various times, early in the game. And stayed off."
     

    黄泉导游

    New Member
    Chinese-China
    I'm always seasick when the waves are rough.
    They roughly pushed her forward.
    He was a rough guy. He was a tough guy. He was a round, tough guy.
    American football is a rough game at the best of times.
    (I think this would be more usual than "tough," but "tough" meaning difficult could be used.)

    Don't think that "rough" and "tough" are synonyms. Try looking them up in the Search box, which will take you to two dictionaries (three, actually – two Random House editions). Also realize that some usages you'll get have to memorize because they are common collocations.
    so, when I describe someone who is aggressive or violent, these two words can be exchangeable. And in other realms, "rough" is used rather than "tough"(I mean if I wanna express violent and so forth). Am I right?
     

    cando

    Senior Member
    English - British
    I would say that describing a person as rough in their behaviour means that they are a little bit violent towards others , but describing them as tough means that they are capable of withstanding violence from others. Rough also means unpolished and unsophisticated, whereas tough means hard and resilient. So they are not equivalent in usage.
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    One thing to keep in mind is that you are dealing with metaphorical or connotative usages, not with the central and more concrete meanings. If you learn the basics it is easier to understand more abstract definitions:

    This sandpaper is very rough and won't smooth out the wood.
    This meat is very tough and difficult to chew.

    Not interchangeable.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    referring to the dictionary,"rough " and "tough" have the similar meaning "violent,use much force" , is there any distinction between these two words?
    Huángquán Dǎoyóu,

    it is always a mistake, when using an English dictionary, to look for similarities - English has very few true synonyms. When looking to distinguish between two words, look for the difference and choose the most appropriate.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    In talking about people, "rough" usually means "not polished; crude; not sophisticated".

    In talking about people, "tough" usually means "able to endure a lot".

    "rough " and "tough" have the similar meaning "violent,use much force"
    Neither word usually means that. But it is possible in some sentences.

    Usually "rough treatment" or "treating a person roughly" means that, though the meaning is milder than "violent" or "much force".

    In some sentences "a tough" is a bully or a person hired to beat people up. But "a tough person" does not mean that.
     

    黄泉导游

    New Member
    Chinese-China
    In talking about people, "rough" usually means "not polished; crude; not sophisticated".

    In talking about people, "tough" usually means "able to endure a lot".



    Neither word usually means that. But it is possible in some sentences.

    Usually "rough treatment" or "treating a person roughly" means that, though the meaning is milder than "violent" or "much force".

    In some sentences "a tough" is a bully or a person hired to beat people up. But "a tough person" does not mean that.
    I would say that describing a person as rough in their behaviour means that they are a little bit violent towards others , but describing them as tough means that they are capable of withstanding violence from others. Rough also means unpolished and unsophisticated, whereas tough means hard and resilient. So they are not equivalent in usage.
    thank you a lot
     
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    Serveto

    Senior Member
    USA English
    referring to the dictionary,"rough " and "tough" have the similar meaning "violent,use much force" , is there any distinction between these two words when they are used for this meaning(violent,use much force)?
    for instances:
    I'm always seasick if the wind is (rough/tough).
    They (roughly/toughly) pushed her forward.
    a (tough/rough) guy.
    American football is a (rough/tough) game at the best of times.
    The word "rough" encompasses the idea of something being the opposite of smooth--or in figurative terms, not easy to go over. It is also the opposite of the word "gentle". The word "tough" encompasses the idea of being strong and resilient, or in figurative terms, being demanding or hard. The expressions "rough" and "tough" are somewhat synonymous when referring to being difficult to go through (I.E., a rough class / a tough class; a rough time (it was hard to get through) / a tough time (it was difficult). With these concepts in mind, let's look at your examples:

    I am always seasick if the wind is rough (the wind is not making it a smooth crossing--it's not easy to get across the water).
    They pushed her forward roughly (they were not gentle with her--they made it so the experience of going forward was not smooth). It wouldn't make sense to say that they "pushed her forward toughly".

    A tough guy = a strong, robust guy, a resilient guy, or even a strict or demanding guy. A rough guy = an unrefined man with gruff mannerisms, or
    possibly an unkempt man.

    American football is a rough game = the game is not gentle. It is a violent game. American football is a tough game = it is not easy to play; it is hard.

    It makes total sense to say that "football players are tough", as this means that they are strong, robust men. But if you say that the game is tough, your implication is that it is not easy.
     

    黄泉导游

    New Member
    Chinese-China
    The word "rough" encompasses the idea of something being the opposite of smooth--or in figurative terms, not easy to go over. It is also the opposite of the word "gentle". The word "tough" encompasses the idea of being strong and resilient, or in figurative terms, being demanding or hard. The expressions "rough" and "tough" are somewhat synonymous when referring to being difficult to go through (I.E., a rough class / a tough class; a rough time (it was hard to get through) / a tough time (it was difficult). With these concepts in mind, let's look at your examples:

    I am always seasick if the wind is rough (the wind is not making it a smooth crossing--it's not easy to get across the water).
    They pushed her forward roughly (they were not gentle with her--they made it so the experience of going forward was not smooth). It wouldn't make sense to say that they "pushed her forward toughly".

    A tough guy = a strong, robust guy, a resilient guy, or even a strict or demanding guy. A rough guy = an unrefined man with gruff mannerisms, or
    possibly an unkempt man.

    American football is a rough game = the game is not gentle. It is a violent game. American football is a tough game = it is not easy to play; it is hard.

    It makes total sense to say that "football players are tough", as this means that they are strong, robust men. But if you say that the game is tough, your implication is that it is not easy.
    thanks for your exhaustive reply.It helps me a lot.
     
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