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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 thugs
  • 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.
  • There were no drunks, no thugs, no skinhead invective.
  • The downside is that it is then also possible for thugs to pressure or pay people to vote for a given candidate.
  • thugs held their fire until carriers finished the routes and drove away in their boxy white trucks.
  • It's the publishers and thugs who somehow are on stage.
  • The thugs then fled, taking with them a couple of hundred dollars' worth of cash, jewelry and cellphones.
  • It was completely non-violent and only resorted to stone-throwing when faced with attacks by regime thugs.
British Dictionary definitions for thugs


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 thugs



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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