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A difficult task; a period of trouble and travail; hard times: If he focused on Rwanda, where would he get the interest and support? It's going to be a hard row to hoe (1835+)
To endure something doggedly and bravely; persist and survive against rigors; hang tough: He's never really had to tough it out in this world of ours/ He is toughing out a feeling that since Mom divorced he is essentially homeless (1830+)