Landscapes of modern expression: “That’s Tuff”

Phrase: “Thats Tuff”

Pronunciation: TH-at Tuhf

Thats Tuff meme pictured with popular YouTuber, Solluminati (Meme by: Jalani Smith)


The colloquial expression “Thats tough” might not be a staple in everyday language, but its resonance extends far beyond mere linguistic trends. This distinctive phrase has found its niche among a specific community of followers, predominantly those who subscribe to the content of a notable YouTuber named Solluminati. Delivered with a trademark flair, this catchphrase has become emblematic of moments that demand a nuanced response – a subjective evaluation of a situation influenced by its impact, whether positive or negative.

Consider this scenario: Picture two individuals engaged in a one-on-one basketball game at the park. One player executes a devastating crossover, leaving their opponent stumbling and securing the winning score. In this moment, the exclamation “Thats tough!” is fitting, encapsulating the intensity and impact of the game-changing move.


To truly grasp the depth of this phrase’s impact, a historical excavation was necessary. Despite the absence of “tuff” in the lexical canon, the roots of “thats tough” can be traced back to a period preceding the 12th century. Originally deployed to articulate the difficulty or outcome of a challenge, the pronunciation of “tough” as ‘təf’ adds a historical nuance to its contemporary usage. Stemming from Middle English, the phrase’s evolution mirrors the ongoing assimilation of archaic terms into the tapestry of modern language.


Beyond its role as a verbal expression, “Thats tough” has evolved into a cultural phenomenon, giving rise to a myriad of merchandise. Shirts, hats, and wristbands adorned with this catchphrase have become sought-after items, translating the phrase’s popularity into a lucrative venture. Beyond the realm of merchandise, the term has permeated the global soundscape, making its mark not only in the United States but also resonating across borders in the U.K., Australia, and Canada.

Adding to its mystique, “Thats tough” boasts multiple potential origins. While some attribute its roots to Old English, others draw connections to Germany. This linguistic diversity underscores the phrase’s global resonance, spanning centuries and persisting as a linguistic gem in the lexicon of 2020. In essence, “Thats tough” has transcended linguistic boundaries to become a cultural touchstone, weaving itself into the fabric of contemporary expression with both historical depth and modern flair.

A video compilation of the phrase “That Tuff.” (Compilation made by: Jalani Smith)


This piece was edited by Lily Cook as part of Professor Kelley Crawford’s Digital Civic Engagement course at Tulane University. 


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I find it interesting how the phrase has resonated within a specific community like Solluminati’s fans. This highlights how language can basketball random and take on new meanings within different groups.

Joel Bullock