tough/rough crowd


Senior Member
Russian, Russia, Sochi

It's from a school test here:

- John got arrested for shoplifting.
- I know. He's been hanging out with a really tough/rough crowd!

Which answer is correct? It seems to me that both 'rough' and 'tough' mean about the same here.
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Rough would be the natural choice in BE: “He’s got/fallen in with a rough crowd.”

    There are quite a lot of examples in Google Books, some with “rough crowd” in inverted commas.


    Senior Member
    Russian, Russia, Sochi
    Thanks a lot, everyone! Seems to be another BrE/AmE difference, doesn't it?


    Senior Member
    English - US
    I tend to reserve "tough" crowd for the meaning "The comedian told a joke but the audience didn't laugh. It was a tough crowd."


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I would pick rough. Tough could have a very similar meaning but rough seems better and tough also has that other meaning.

    It reminds me of the song "Someday Soon". When Judy Collins sang it she sang the following line:
    I would follow him right down the toughest road I know

    When Suzy Bogguss sang her version of it she sang:
    I would follow him right down the roughest road I know

    I thought it was interesting that she changed that word. I always thought roughest sounded better and made more sense.
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