thug

[thuhg]
noun
1.
a cruel or vicious ruffian, robber, or murderer.
2.
(sometimes initial capital letter) one of a former group of professional robbers and murderers in India who strangled their victims.

Origin:
1800–10; < Hindi thag literally, rogue, cheat

thuggery [thuhg-uh-ree] , noun
thuggish, adjective
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World English Dictionary
thug (θʌɡ)
 
n
1.  a tough and violent man, esp a criminal
2.  (sometimes capital) (formerly) a member of an organization of robbers and assassins in India who typically strangled their victims
 
[C19: from Hindi thag thief, from Sanskrit sthaga scoundrel, from sthagati to conceal]
 
'thuggery
 
n
 
'thuggish
 
adj

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

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 Skt. sthaga-s "cunning, fraudulent," possibly from sthagayati "(he) covers, conceals," from PIE base *(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 Eng. 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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Example sentences
Again, this is nothing more than a bunch of elitist thugs who feel they have
  the moral duty to dictate you how you live.
Locking up the pickpocket only sets him up to learn worse tricks from hardened
  thugs.
In a world of tribes and thugs manliness still goes a long way.
People in all cultures gravitate toward power, and are susceptible to
  intimidation by thugs and chieftains.
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