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When the going gets tough...

Posted by ESC on October 21, 2001

In Reply to: The tough get going posted by R. Berg on October 21, 2001

: : Hi!,

: : I wanted to know what does the phrase,
: : "When the going gets tough, the tough gets going" means. Actually I understood the first part of it. But the second part "the tough gets going" is not clear to me. What does the word "tough" stand for, here? Does it mean "brave", "bold", "determined" or something like that?

: : Any answer is appreciated.
: : Thanks in advance.
: : -K.Sunitha

: Yes, it means precisely those things--brave, bold, determined . . . rugged, strong, indomitable. The saying goes ". . . the tough GET going": "tough" functions as a plural noun here. Those who are tough (strong) get going: they spring into action to meet whatever challenge is making things tough (difficult).

WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE TOUGH GET GOING - "When the situation gets critical, those who aren't weak-willed work harder and never give up. The proverb is attributed to Joseph P. Kennedy (1888-1969), the father of (U.S.) President John F. Kennedy. It was recently popularized by Billy Ocean's song 'When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going' . The saying is found in varying forms. When the times are tough, the tough see opportunities." From Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).

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