Rough It (Idiom) – Meaning, Origins & Examples

rough it meaning and examples, explained below

When someone decides to “rough it,” they intentionally choose to endure conditions that are less comfortable or luxurious than what they are accustomed to.

This idiom is frequently utilized to convey an elective decision to embrace inconvenience, typically in exchange for a distinctive, often adventurous, experience.

For example, opting to camp in a tent without modern amenities instead of staying in a plush hotel might be described as choosing to “rough it.”

chrisAbout the Author: has a PhD in Education. He has been a teacher in schools and universities and has taught English as a Second Language in Colombia. He is former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.

Origins of “Rough It”

The origin of the phrase “rough it” can be attributed to various scenarios where individuals willingly endured hardship.

It could emanate from:

  • Military Campaigns: Historically, soldiers on military campaigns often had to endure tough conditions, living without the comfort of home and facing physical hardships. In these situations, they were “roughing it” as they moved through adverse environments and challenging terrains.
  • Exploration and Pioneering: Similarly, explorers and pioneers, who ventured into unknown territories, endured hardships by surviving with minimal comforts and sometimes with basic survival necessities. The commitment to “rough it” in search of discovery and settlement came with the territory.

The idiom “rough it” conveys a voluntary acceptance of these hardships, often for the sake of adventure, experience, or necessity, and continues to be utilized in modern parlance today, as seen in the consistent usage charted by Google:

10 Examples in a Sentence

  • “We decided to rough it and camp without our usual gadgets this weekend.”
  • “On their journey west, the pioneers had to rough it through vast, inhospitable terrains.”
  • “During the hiking trip, we will rough it by sleeping under the stars without a tent.”
  • “The team chose to rough it in the rural areas to truly understand the local lifestyle.”
  • “Although there were hotels available, they decided to rough it on the mountain.”
  • “Survival experts know how to rough it in the wilderness with minimal supplies.”
  • “During our budget travel, we had to rough it and sleep in hostels and budget inns.”
  • “He learned to rough it during his years serving in the army in various remote locations.”
  • “Despite being wealthy, she chose to rough it while traveling to immerse herself in different cultures.”
  • “Many successful entrepreneurs had to rough it in the initial stages of their business venture.”

Practice Questions Worksheet for Students

Question 1: If you decide to “rough it” on your camping trip, what might you experience?

  • a) Luxury accommodations
  • b) Challenging living conditions
  • c) Full-service dining
  • d) A spa day

Question 2: When would a historical pioneer likely have had to “rough it”?

  • a) During a luxurious ocean voyage
  • b) While traversing across untamed landscapes
  • c) During a stay in a developed town
  • d) While attending a grand ball

Question 3: Why might someone choose to “rough it” during a vacation?

  • a) To experience adventure and authenticity
  • b) To enjoy lavish comforts
  • c) To have a restful, easygoing trip
  • d) To engage in high-end shopping

Question 4: What skills might be helpful if you plan to “rough it” on a wilderness expedition?

  • a) Negotiating prices at a luxury store
  • b) Survival and basic first aid skills
  • c) Booking five-star hotels
  • d) Ordering gourmet food

Similar Idioms

1. Bite the bullet

Definition: To face a painful situation bravely and stoically. In a Sentence: “She decided to bite the bullet and hike through the treacherous path.”

2. Roll with the punches

Definition: To adapt to setbacks and hardship. In a Sentence: “Despite multiple challenges, the explorer rolled with the punches.”

3. Take the bull by the horns

Definition: To confront a problem head-on. In a Sentence: “He took the bull by the horns and ventured into the wild with minimal gear.”

4. Face the music

Definition: To accept the unpleasant consequences of one’s actions. In a Sentence: “After getting lost, the traveler had to face the music and find a way back.”

5. Grin and bear it

Definition: To endure a painful or unpleasant situation with good humor. In a Sentence: “When the camping gear was left behind, they decided to grin and bear it.”

6. Stiff upper lip

Definition: To be courageous in the face of adversity. In a Sentence: “Keeping a stiff upper lip, she traversed through the challenging terrain.”

7. Bear the brunt

Definition: To endure the worst part of something unpleasant or harmful. In a Sentence: “The leader decided to bear the brunt of the harsh winter night.”

8. Take it on the chin

Definition: To bravely or stoically accept criticism, punishment, or misfortune. In a Sentence: “The adventurers took it on the chin when their plan went awry.”

9. Stand one’s ground

Definition: To maintain one’s position or beliefs in the face of opposition. In a Sentence: “Despite the hardships, the explorers stood their ground.”

10. Take in stride

Definition: To deal with a problem or difficulty calmly and not to allow it to influence what you are doing. In a Sentence: “She took the unexpected hurdles in stride during the expedition.”

11. Ride out the storm

Definition: To endure a period of hardship or disorder. In a Sentence: “The stranded hiker rode out the storm in a makeshift shelter.”

12. Hang tough

Definition: To remain determined and resolute in a difficult situation. In a Sentence: “Amidst the setbacks, the team hung tough and continued the journey.”

13. Weather the storm

Definition: To survive a difficult situation. In a Sentence: “They managed to weather the storm by rationing their supplies.”

14. Keep a level head

Definition: To remain calm and rational in difficult circumstances. In a Sentence: “Despite the challenges, she kept a level head and devised a survival strategy.”

15. Keep one’s nose to the grindstone

Definition: To work hard and continuously. In a Sentence: “To achieve his goal, he kept his nose to the grindstone despite numerous challenges.”

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