a tough guy

tough guy

A particularly strong, resolute, fearless, and independent man who does not show weakness or emotion and does not rely on or bow down to others. Hyphenated if used as a modifier before a noun. The best tough guys in cinema are those who aren't invincible, but find still find a way to win against all odds. John's always putting on this tough-guy façade, but I know that deep down he's a bit of a coward.
See also: guy, tough
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

a ˈtough guy

(informal) a strong, independent-minded person who seems to be afraid of nothing: The most famous ‘tough guy’ in American movies was John Wayne.
See also: guy, tough
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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References in periodicals archive ?
FOR a tough guy, Roy Keane seems to have a thin skin when it comes to Jose Mourinho's slightly early handshake.