Green’s Dictionary of Slang

rugged adj.

1. of people, tough.

[US]J. Hempstead Diary 241: A Rugged Hardy young man [...] went to the House of Samll Parke [DA].
[US]J. Pickering Vocab. 167: Englishmen notice our use of rugged, in this sense, as a peculiarity; in expressions of this kind — a rugged, i.e., robust child; rugged health [DA].
[UK]Examiner (London) 14 June 5/2: Charles I and II, (the latter a black and rugged looking personage).
[UK]Bell’s Wkly Messenger (London) 21 Mar. 7/2: A rugged looking urchin [...] was charged [...] of having wantonly ill used a sheep.
[UK]Western Times 1 Jan. 5/5: A rugged looking man with red hair.
[UK]Morpeth Herald 3 Sept. 2/3: A group of rugged looking Spanish soldiers.
[UK]Leeds Mercury 14 Mar. 6/4: British tars [...] strong, bronzed, rugged-looking.
[US]River Press (Fort Benton, MT) 3 May 7/1: A rugged looking capitalist from the wild canyons of the Rocky Mountains.
[UK]Aberdeen Press & Jrnl 27 Nov. 4/5: St Palladus stands a bearded and [...] rugged looking low-mitred bishop.
St Johns Herald (AZ) 9 Feb. 2/1: She had a massive head and a [...] rugged countenance.
[US]Harper’s Mag. Apr. 747/2: She is not what you would call a rugged-looking baby [DA].
[US]Chickasha Dly Exp. (OK) 17 May 5/2: The deceased [...] was a strong and rugged looking boy.
Red Cloud Chief (Webster, NE) 12 Dec. 8/2: A lage, rugged-looking man [...] looked at the display.
[UK]Yorks. Post 25 Sept. 6/5: A rugged looking man [...] shook them warmly by the hand.
[US]C. Himes ‘Let Me at the Enemy’ in Coll. Stories (1990) 39: Them was some rugged cats.
[UK]Hastings & St Leonards Obs. 21 Dec. 9/3: The reliable, rugged-looking countenance of Jack ball.
[US]B. Jackson Get Your Ass in the Water (1974) 168: This Monkey went to the party and knocked on the door, / he said, ‘Yes, I’m rugged, I’m ragged, I’m ’round here, / I know goddam well I wasn’t invited but I’m down here.’.

2. of an activity, tough, difficult.

Dly Bulletin (Honolulu, HI) 13 Aug. 2/2: A rough and rugged looking procession.
[US]E. Pyle Here Is Your War (1945) 101: When the flak over Bizerte had been especially bad, that was a ‘rugged’ trip. Anything extraordinarily tough was ‘rugged.’.
[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 113: Sunday morning was always pretty rugged for anything but sleep.
[US]E. Hunter ‘See Him Die’ in Jungle Kids (1967) 103: Unless we got a good spot on the roof, things would be rugged.