5 terms to describe being tough on the outside but soft on the inside (2023)

When you want to describe someone who is tough on the outside but soft on the inside, it helps to use a few descriptive words. We've put together a list of the best synonyms for that purpose in this article to help you figure out which one works for you.

What words can describe someone who is tough on the outside but soft on the inside?

There are some great words to describe someone who is tough on the outside but soft on the inside. Some we'll talk about include:

  • Nut
  • prickly pear
  • Sheep in wolf's clothing
  • Bruiser with a soft center
  • All mouth and no pants
5 terms to describe being tough on the outside but soft on the inside (1)

The preferred term is "nut", which was coined by Muhammad Ali. It is used to refer to someone who is tough on the outside but soft on the inside, and it is the best word you can use to describe this descriptive personality.

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Let's start by examining the meaning of "nut". It works great and it helps that it's just one word instead of a whole sentence.

Originally coined by famed boxer Muhammad Ali, a "crackpot" is someone who puts on a tough show, but once threatened, often backs down from a fight because he has a soft inside.

He also coined similar phrases such as "grape" (smooth inside and out), "plum" (smooth on the outside, hard on the inside), and "pomegranates" (hard all over).

To this day, it's still a great phrase to use, and it's especially helpful that Ali himself coined it. People often use it when they want to belittle their opponents or try to win a psychological game before any serious challenge comes to fruition.

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"Walnut" is a great way to use the phrase, and it works.in sequenceways:

  • You're crazy, which means you're tough on the outside, butNothing butsoft and smooth in the middle!
  • I wouldn't worry too much about her. The moment you challenge her, she will walk away from you because she is crazy.
  • Nuts shouldn't worry you! They are easy to deal with as long as you threaten defeat from the start.
  • I'm not crazy! I'll show you what I can do! Just give me some time to prove myself.
  • I hear they're both crazy, which makes my impending victory over them all the sweeter!

prickly pear

Next, let's see what it means to be a “tuna”.

If someone is a prickly pear, it means they have a hard (or "spiny") exterior. However, once removed, you will find that they are smooth and easy to swallow, just like a ripe pear would be.

It's also easy to break through a prickly pear's outer barriers, making them much easier to handle than in most other cases. As long as you don't mind getting stung in the initial confrontation, it's usually possible to break through relatively quickly.

A “tuna” works with the following examples:

  • My mom thinks I'm a prickly pear and apparently my toughness is all for show!
  • You are not as tough as you think; in fact, you are nothing more than a prickly pear!
  • I wouldn't bother getting involved with that tuna! He won't be able to do much to beat you.
  • You are a prickly pear and I can tell that you are terrified of what comes next.
  • Don't be a mere prick when you can really put your actions to the test to see if you're worthy!

Sheep in wolf's clothing

A "sheep in wolf's clothing" is the exact opposite of the expression "a wolf in sheep's clothing." It works very well to talk about someone who is tough on the outside but struggles to act on anything given the chance.

Sheep are notoriously weak animals that often follow their leaders blindly, with no say in the matter. Wolves are tough and cruel predators. Someone who is a sheep in wolf's clothing acts tough and cruel, but once challenged, becomes a weak-willed ball of wool.

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The metaphor holds up incredibly well and it's very easy to understand what it means. Even if someone hasn't encountered it before, if they know sheep and wolves, they'll likely understand the meaning someone is trying to convey with it.

A “sheep in wolves' clothing” can occur in the following ways:

  • They're a bunch of sheep in wolves clothing, so I wouldn't put them through that either!
  • He's a sheep in wolf's clothing, and I'm not sure why you're so worried about what he has to say.
  • Don't be a sheep in wolf's clothing. There are so many better things you could be; you just need to stop running from a challenge!
  • I'm not a sheep in wolf's clothing! I'll be happy to prove it to you if you're willing to give me a chance!
  • I heard that he is nothing more than a sheep in wolf's clothing. I know it sounds crazy but she's tough on the outside but soft and sticky on the inside.

Bruiser with a soft center

A sore with a soft center is something that has been coined by television magazines. They use it to talk about specific actors who act tough on screen but are soft on the inside and rarely try to confront people (a good example is Chuck Norris).

A soft center bully is a person who acts tough, but often manages to lower his defenses when he trusts people. It could also mean that, once challenged, the bully will show his true colors and not want to get involved in any serious conflict.

It is especially common among film and television actors. However, the phrase has come to be applied to a broader audience, making it a great expression to describe just about anyone.

A "soft center bruiser" maywork inin the following ways:

  • I hear he's a soft center brute so I wouldn't worry too much about what he says.
  • I'm a soft core fighter and I'll be happy to let my guard down when I know who I can trust.
  • We are not threatened by a lowly fighter with a soft center! Tell him that if he wants a fight, we'll be happy to take him on!
  • Trust us; she is nothing more than a fighter with a soft center. She can talk the talk, but she doesn't follow the path.
  • Many times I have been called a soft center fighter. It's time to show people that this center is not as "soft" as they think.

All mouth and no pants

Finally, we will see the expression "all mouth and no pants."

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This expression means that someone just talks and is happy to talk themselves into sounding much tougher than they are. However, when they face each other, they don't have the "pants" (or the guts) to fight whatever is said about them.

Generally, a person who only talks and doesn't wear pants is calm in most situations. They often talk a lot but have a hard time acting on what they say. They are also easy to spot in most social circles, making it much easier for you.not stopyou have to worry about them.

You can watch "all mouth and no pants" in the following ways:

  • Oh, I wouldn't care about anything he said! He's all mouth and no pants, really!
  • You should not worry about this threat. She is known for being all mouth and no pants!
  • I don't think you realize this, but your boss is all mouth and no pants, and he really needs you.
  • You're all mouth and no pants! Why don't you put me to the test to see which of the two comes out on top?
  • They are all mouth and no pants. EITHERnext timeI see them, I goMake sureI emphasize it for them.

What does it mean to be hard on the outside but soft on the inside?

Now that we've covered the best synonyms to describe someone this way, it might as well help you understand what the saying means.

When someone is tough on the outside but soft on the inside, it means they put on a tough show and a tough exterior. However, when challenged, they usually walk away from the conflict or don't have enough to show for it when put in their place.

Sometimes it can mean that someone is a pushover, but only when really challenged. Typically, people with this description will pretend to be tougher than they are to try and avoid a serious confrontation.

It can also mean that someone puts on a tough exterior, but once you trust someone enough, they will gladly let their guard down. This makes them very good relationship partners, as you will often find them protective yet kind to you.

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However, if you really confront someone with this personality trait, you will often find that it doesn't take long for them to walk away or apologize.

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