… The Tough Gets Going …

One of my high school teachers once told our class: “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.” I never understood what she said (and seriously thought she mis-quoted the quote, but I think I can understand it a little better now (after the traditional googling, of course…).

The first part, “When the going gets tough…”, is simply explainable as encountering a challenge, etc. However, the second part, “… The tough gets going.” never ‘gelled’ with my consciousness. After said googling, I found this interesting:

“It means … 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).”

Via Phrase Finder

Interesting… very interesting…

  • MBogus

    When the going get tough, the tough start taking names and kicking ass! HOOAH!!!

  • ben

    The Dictionary of Idioms cites “Swing into action” as comparable to “When the going gets tough….” This makes sense because what is tougher than swinging? And might I add: more dramatic? But I’m given pause by your definition, which opts for “spring into action.” Springing, I think, would be more difficult than swinging, except in this instance: When the rope, vine, whip, arms, etc. are longer than they should be to avoid smacking into the ground–that’s when the going really gets tough. Or when the going takes the swinger straight past the action and into a wall. And while springing (by pogostick?) might be more comic, even without bodily injury, it could never be more dramatic.

    I wonder though: What occasion would there be in the classroom for swinging or springing? And what could she possibly have been referencing?