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Simran Khurana

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going!

By July 6, 2005

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You have often heard this inspiring saying. But what truly helps us get through the tough part is our determination. You don't believe me? Well, then read these inspirational problem solving quotes by famous authors.


July 31, 2006 at 9:09 pm
(1) Randy says:

So where does the quote come from?
When the going gets tough, the tough get going?

December 25, 2007 at 12:44 pm
(2) Danny says:

Billy Ocean ;)

January 9, 2008 at 2:55 pm
(3) Will says:

Actually it was Joseph P. Kennedy (1888-1969), the father of (U.S.) President John F. Kennedy who said it originally. It was however popularized by Billy Ocean’s song ‘When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going’ (1986).

April 24, 2008 at 4:27 am
(4) srdjan says:

So that is what it really means! Man, i hallucinated something totally different.

May 22, 2008 at 12:19 am
(5) Cordy says:

Well it seems kinda odd in some ways. I understand the “going gets tough” part but the “tough get going”. Couldnt it also mean that the “tough” run away ??

May 27, 2008 at 2:21 pm
(6) quotations says:

I guess “get going” could mean, “go away.” But in the context of this proverb, its meaning is “get motivated” or “start producing results” or “work towards making things right” or “demonstrate their mettle…”

June 17, 2008 at 2:55 am
(7) Encore says:

its actually a quote by Knute Rockne, the great Notre Dame football coach of the 20′s

December 17, 2008 at 3:14 pm
(8) Armando says:

I heard it for the first time in the movie “Animal House” (1978).

January 17, 2009 at 9:53 pm
(9) RhapsodyWolf says:

I thin, what it means, is that when your life gets rough, if you know how to endure and solve the problem, you become motivated to do whatever you can to solve the problems you have, or something along those lines… At least, that’s how I interpret it.

April 9, 2009 at 2:59 pm
(10) Tough says:

This is one of my favorite motivational quotes. I intend to always get tough when the going gets tough.

April 10, 2009 at 12:49 am
(11) Greg says:

I guess that it all comes down to how you face adversity. Will you buckle under it or will you say, “I am capable of struggling through this and of coming through shining.”

April 11, 2009 at 2:22 pm
(12) Sally says:

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going!

That is probably my favorite all time quote. Thanks for the problem solving quotes.

April 13, 2009 at 2:48 pm
(13) Ronnie says:

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going! I have heard that a gazzilion times, but I cannot get enough. In fact, however strange it seems, I have bookmarked this page and keep coming back to read it again. Ronnie

April 14, 2009 at 2:41 am
(14) Solve the Problem says:

It is one thing to analyze a problem to death. It is entirely another to solve it. :)

April 22, 2009 at 12:15 pm
(15) Me Again says:

The same old Don’t Quit message. :)

April 23, 2009 at 11:07 pm
(16) Willey says:

“When the going gets tough” that obviously means when times are hard. “The tough get going.” Means that the people who endure don’t stay in the bad times. They get up and get going, moving on to a better place. Probably my favorite quote of all time.

April 25, 2009 at 7:09 am
(17) Mitchell says:

I reckon what should happen to avoid confusion is change the quote. You could make it “when the going gets tough, the tough gets tougher” coz that can’t cause confusion. It makes sense

April 25, 2009 at 5:34 pm
(18) shweta says:

when the going gets tough – means “at hard times”
the tough get going – “the tough” is refered to a person and means a tough person will not give up

“at hard times, a tough person will not give up and keep trying”

April 27, 2009 at 10:45 am
(19) Roy Janho says:

The correct meaning for this saying is this:
when the going gets tough (whenever people who work for you or in collaboration with you, are not producing results for one reason or another), the tough gets going (use alternate-tough ways to get them going)

May 11, 2009 at 9:51 am
(20) Mark Specer says:

I agree with Roy. It is very reasonable !

May 11, 2009 at 9:53 am
(21) Pedro Pina says:

Roy, you are our Master !

May 11, 2009 at 6:01 pm
(22) Simran says:

@Roy: That is an interesting interpretation of the saying. And as we can see, some readers agree with your interpretation.

That is what I like about quotations. It is your interpretation of the quote that makes it special for you.

Keep Reading :)

June 23, 2009 at 8:37 am
(23) Zaza Shah says:

Well I agreed with Roy, maybe 50% of it, the way he described as a businessman talking, what about us? individual?. I speak from my personal experience, ‘When the going gets tough’, – when the situations that we face are getting tougher and we realised that the situation is no way to be solved out, the door has close it seemed, we still have faith in our belief to make us emerged stronger, each and everyday, so this is the time ‘when the tough gets going’, the tough is moving away, or if the tough still want to stay, it becomes normal, it is like nothing, you are already a bullet proof jacket. *Smile* I supposed to die according to doctor 3 years ago, but now I am living my happy life.

July 3, 2009 at 11:55 pm
(24) shakespeare says:

i think , this is an obvious political adage .the saying explains a great fact whish is : only tough people keep going on when things are challenging and getting hard .also,it means only people with faith that no one can shake ,and forbearance , things never die for them .

July 13, 2009 at 10:32 pm
(25) Steve says:

I have always responded to this with “perhaps if the tough had got going sooner, the going would have never got tough in the first place!”

July 14, 2009 at 3:41 am
(26) quotations says:

That is a really interesting perspective Steve. You certainly have a parody quotation maker in you. Consider adding your wisdom to these parody quotes.

August 9, 2009 at 9:34 am
(27) kyutonoijin says:

If you guys are confused about that quote..Maybe my quote is a lot better..


August 11, 2009 at 11:27 am
(28) quotations says:

kyutonoijin, I invite you to my parody quotes page too :) You clearly are a parody quote-maker.

August 13, 2009 at 5:05 am
(29) Ahmed H says:

Meaning: When a situation is difficult or dangerous, strong people work harder to resolve the problem. This saying relies on a difficult play on words; it could be rephrased word-for-word as: “When the situation becomes hard, strong people start working.”
Note: the going (noun): the situation; the ground; the environment | tough (adj.): difficult, hard | the tough (noun): tough people; hard, strong people | to get going (verb): start; go

Origin: This saying is attributed both to Joseph P. Kennedy (1888-1969), father of the USA President John F. Kennedy, and to Norwegian-born American football player and coach Knute Rockne (1888-1931).

Variety: This is typically used in American English but may be used in other varieties of English too.

September 2, 2009 at 1:54 pm
(30) Saurabh says:


September 27, 2009 at 3:37 pm
(31) v says:

When the going gets tough..kill tough and be gone!

September 28, 2009 at 11:29 am
(32) mogus says:

First time I saw this saying was on TV like 20 years ago. It was stamped on a T-shirt that the then president of my country Brazil was wearing (btw he was impeached from his office right after. deja-vu anyone?)
I always thought it’s like “When things got bad, just leave it to the tough guys.” Now I see that the meaning is much more inspiring. Holy internet!

October 3, 2009 at 11:54 pm
(33) Rem says:

This is my take.

When the goings (tasks) are getting tougher and more difficult; only then we would know how good a person really is. Because only the tough ones (those really good) can keep going (or deal with the difficult tasks).

October 31, 2009 at 11:37 am
(34) Greg says:

Another spin on this quote: “When the load gets tough, the tough get loaded.”

December 10, 2009 at 2:55 am
(35) tripoli says:


January 13, 2010 at 3:27 pm
(36) Nitesh says:

When The Going Gets Tough, Tough Takes A Break!!

February 6, 2010 at 12:56 am
(37) itzMeSEPH says:

in my own thoughts “whenever things are in hard times “don’t quit” instead find any alternatives to solve the problem.. because God wouldn’t give us problems that we can’t solve… they are just test to become a better one… ^^


February 14, 2010 at 3:25 pm
(38) daydreamer says:

I agree with SEPH :)

I am now in a predicament but will not give up.

February 27, 2010 at 12:40 am
(39) senorita404 says:

My interpretation of this beautifull qoute is

“When the going gets tough”- (when our life/daily activities/career/existance becomes difficult to deal with, and harsh to us)-”the tough get going”-(it now changes the meaning of the words-play on word- tough is refered to as a person so-people who are sturdy and strong get going as into start weaving and tackling a way into dealing with this situation)

do let me know if anyone agrees. thanks

March 27, 2010 at 12:13 am
(40) Ryan Master says:

“when the going gets tough”- when you are at a troubled time in your life, when there is high stress, or when nothing seems to be going your way.. “The tough get going” that is when the people with the biggest hearts, biggest derermination fight through the harsh times, never give up, and reveal their real character

March 30, 2010 at 8:20 am
(41) zero says:

i think of the proverb:狭路相逢勇者胜。that means when we meet hard/tough, the brave people will win,while another meaning is not mentioned in the sayings which need us to think out in extension ,that is the weaker will fail.

April 15, 2010 at 7:11 pm
(42) gen'Y' says:

wel dis phrase can b used in dffrnt ways, depending on the situation currently faced,one can say its like survival of the fittest,wen the situation gets tougher,onli the fittest will survive as dey r the ones who will climb up the leader of success and they posses wat we call, a strategic mind set, meaning wen a bad situatin gets tough they think out of the box(smart) to get out of that situation,n dats a way forward for them.

May 9, 2010 at 11:51 pm
(43) Osman says:

Imagine a group of people walking miles and miles with very limited provision, and they are walking on a deep muddy ground… very tough. When the going (walking) gets difficult and tough, only those who are tough (have stamina and endourance) will continue going (walking). In other words tough people face calamity and difficulty head-on, while others give up.

May 14, 2010 at 12:38 am
(44) Tracy Lurie says:

NoŽl Coward used it in Easy Virtue, a three-act play. He wrote it in 1924 when he was 25 years old, and it was his 16th play.

July 15, 2010 at 7:51 am
(45) M.Shanks says:

I’ve also seen;
“When the going gets tough, get a belt-fed weapon!”

July 18, 2010 at 8:44 pm
(46) SecondSight says:

Knute Rockne, football coach of Notre Dame, was the first to say it. That may have inflenced the father of JFK. Rockne coached in the 1930s.

July 29, 2010 at 1:37 am
(47) Dr. Ibrar says:

It actually tells what a TOUGH person is. As most of the people would give up or lose their nerves under challenges but only those who do not give up gets the title “TOUGH”.

August 12, 2010 at 6:45 pm
(48) Maaz says:

I always thought it was more of a warning than an advice. I thought what it meant was “when it becomes difficult to go forward, Tough (difficulty) takes over. (so fights it)”

Something like that.

August 17, 2010 at 12:38 pm
(49) otom says:

“when the going gets tough” – when the situation became difficult to handle.

“the tough get going” – that difficulty will make you even stronger to handle the situation.

- otom -

November 29, 2010 at 11:00 pm
(50) SANDOSH says:

when the going get tough, the tough get going. To me it means, when going is easy everyone get going, but when the going becomes tough, the tough (people with rock hard inside) get an easy going!!!

December 28, 2010 at 12:59 pm
(51) brook says:

im sorry to frustrate most of u guys ,but the most convinient explanation and which was discussed in our class with many doctors is that :”when going gets tough”:when obsticles are more than what u can overcome,”only tough gets going “:only the tough person (persistant,determined person)can continue this life and face its miserable havocs.by the way its origin is “when going gets tough only tough keepson going”

January 29, 2011 at 5:39 am
(52) Koonal says:


May 15, 2011 at 8:07 am
(53) deepak says:


June 15, 2011 at 8:07 am
(54) nccky says:

it means that where whe get trough in live; the difficult things they make us stronger ang give us power to go on and fight/carry the difficult things in live..

March 21, 2012 at 3:00 am
(55) ravi says:

When a situation is difficult or dangerous, strong people work much harder to resolve it.

March 21, 2012 at 3:01 am
(56) ravi says:

When a situation is difficult or dangerous, strong people work harder to resolve it.

March 30, 2012 at 4:09 pm
(57) Dalton Dennis says:

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
-Joseph P. Kennedy

May 19, 2012 at 9:33 pm
(58) Michael says:

Try to imagine if you push an object to move forward. is hard and tough but you continue pushing it, the object will move eventually. Tough is the object.

May 31, 2012 at 2:09 am
(59) tough says:

I think that it means I am the tough one and that I need to get my life on track and not to let anyone or thing bring me down.

August 16, 2012 at 6:50 am
(60) Maria says:

This is the main motto of the Australian SAS.
I had never heard it before until I read about them.

August 22, 2012 at 11:01 am
(61) Jennifer says:

When it gets tough, being tough is what will keep us going!

September 29, 2012 at 2:37 am
(62) srikant pathak says:

When goin gets tough tougher get going. I think this should be the meaning.

November 27, 2012 at 3:53 am
(63) Jaco says:

Just never give up no matter what the problem is. Identify the REAL problem and start there.

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