Though stuff

This idiom is so very American: “When the going gets tough, the tough get’s going.”

when the going gets though ...., pic: © Dan Vasile-lucian |

In plain English it means: when things get difficult strong people are at their best taking action and solving the problem(s).  It is used in casual and business conversation.

The expression relies on a somewhat confusing play on words as let’s define the central words used

the going (noun): the situation; the circumstances; the environment

tough (adj.): difficult, hard

the tough (noun): tough people;  strong determined people

to get going (verb): start; go

Example: “We went through a really difficult phase last year at work.  We almost had to shut down the company but then we all pulled together, worked real hard and now the company does better than ever.  When the going gets though, the tough get going!”

A spoof on this saying is the following variation which makes fun of the favorite past time of many Americans “if the going gets though, the though go – shopping”.

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