tough guy n.
1. (orig. US, also tough monkey) a thug.
|Enormous Room (1928) 195: A terribly tall, rather round-shouldered individual, of whom I said to myself immediately: ‘’By Jove, here’s a tough guy and a murderer all in one.’.|
|Iron Man 30: Coke Mason is just another newspaper tough guy. I could lick him myself.|
|Phenomena in Crime 204: Plentifully stocked with battalions of ‘tough guys.’.|
|Scrambled Yeggs 70: Tell Cookie there’s a tough guy, a gentleman named Sheldon Scott, wants to see him.|
|World of Jimmy Breslin (1968) 9: He’s yellow. Put the bull on these tough guys and they all bend in half.|
|Go-Boy! 36: Fellow prisoners will classify him as a wheel, a solid guy, a tough guy [...] or, if he is thought to be an informer, a rat.|
|Glitz 113: Kind of a tough monkey, huh?|
|Chopper From The Inside 13: All I ever learnt as a child and teenager was violence and hatred for would-be tough guys.|
|(con. 1973) Johnny Porno 40: You wanna cat like a tough guy, save it for the street.|
2. someone who cannot easily be checked or thwarted; note use as v. in cit. 1999.
|Billy Bennett’s Third Budget 25: Jim was the tough guy of Texas, / Quick on the draw was Jim.‘A Tale of the Rockies’ in|
|They Die with Their Boots Clean 29: Galileo would have been a Tough Guy to Barker because he couldn’t find it in himself to deny that the earth revolved around the sun.|
|Blackboard Jungle 98: Well, we’ll see about our good friend Daddy-oh, the tough guy.|
|Crime in S. Afr. 93: The activities of of these juvenile ‘tough guys’ [...] include theft, beatings and a number of vicious pranks.|
|All Bull 92: He was a tough guy in the real sense of the word.|
|Only Fools and Horses [TV script] I’ve always played the tough guy!‘Strained Relations’|
|Love Is a Racket 231: I big-talked and tough-guyed my way through the day.|