Student or Learner
Does "tough" mean the following? It has lots of meanings depending on the context, so I'm confused.
-vicious; rough; rowdyish: a tough character; a tough neighborhood.
ex)Years ago there was a group of brilliant male students at the University of Wisconsin, who had amazing creative literary talent. These promising young men met regularly to analyze and criticize each other's work. They were heartless, tough, even mean in their criticism. The sessions became such arenas of literary criticism that the members of this exclusive club called themselves the "Stragnlers".
Yes, tough means all those things and more, depending on the context, as you rightly say.
In your sentence, I would interpret tough as 'hard', or not holding back.
Their name, 'The Stranglers', makes sense: not a lot of fun in their sessions!
How about this expression: "When the going gets tough, the tough get going"? It's an interesting play on words which I can explain if necessary.