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[thuhg] /θʌg/
a cruel or vicious ruffian, robber, or murderer.
(sometimes initial capital letter) one of a former group of professional robbers and murderers in India who strangled their victims.
Origin of thug
1800-10; < Hindi thag literally, rogue, cheat
Related forms
[thuhg-uh-ree] /ˈθʌg ə ri/ (Show IPA),
thuggish, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for thug
  • It's often a puzzle to me how one plant can be well-behaved and valued in one area but a thug in another region.
  • Today he's staring at the face of a thug on the screen of his gunmetal-gray laptop.
  • His former image of brutal thug has turned into builder.
  • Pro basketball doesn't have a drug problem or a thug problem.
  • Until recently, central bankers thought that this thug had been locked up for life.
  • He was a flat-out, knee-crawling thug with the morals of a weasel on speed.
  • The only surprise ending in one of these conspiracy tales would be if the ultimate villain were some proletarian thug.
  • They got there because some drug thug is pushing them.
  • We didn't focus on the typical street level, standing on the corner, dope dealing thug.
  • Still, behind my back some of the line staff call me hug-a-thug.
British Dictionary definitions for thug


a tough and violent man, esp a criminal
(sometimes capital) (formerly) a member of an organization of robbers and assassins in India who typically strangled their victims
Derived Forms
thuggery, noun
thuggish, adjective
Word Origin
C19: from Hindi thag thief, from Sanskrit sthaga scoundrel, from sthagati to conceal
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for thug

1810, "member of a gang of murderers and robbers in India who strangled their victims," from Marathi thag, thak "cheat, swindler," Hindi thag, perhaps from Sanskrit sthaga-s "cunning, fraudulent," possibly from sthagayati "(he) covers, conceals," from PIE root *(s)teg- "cover" (see stegosaurus). Transferred sense of "ruffian, cutthroat" first recorded 1839. The more correct Indian name is phanseegur, and the activity was described in English as far back as c.1665. Rigorously prosecuted by the British from 1831, they were driven from existence, but the process extended over the rest of the 19c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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