\ ˈthəg \

Definition of thug 

: a brutal ruffian or assassin : gangster, tough

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Other words from thug

thuggery \ˈthə-g(ə-)rē \ noun
thuggish \ˈthə-gish \ adjective

Examples of thug in a Sentence

He was beaten and robbed by street thugs. the Mob boss regularly sent his thugs after people who were slow to pay their debts

Recent Examples on the Web

Where is the outcry for the killings and crime being caused by gangs and thugs, including MS-13, coming into our country illegally? Kathryn Watson, CBS News, "GOP senator calls child separation "current shiny object of the day"," 19 June 2018 In León, a stronghold of government support, thugs loyal to his Sandinista regime tried to put university students onto buses heading for Managua, the capital, to use them to help suppress protests there. The Economist, "Latin America’s new media are growing up," 14 July 2018 The hero, a young thug whose traveling companion is a mutant, telepathic dog, is lured to an underground community but rebels against its sterility. Richard Sandomir,, "Harlan Ellison, pugnacious and prolific science fiction writer, dies at 84," 30 June 2018 Grant is remarkable as British MP Jeremy Thorpe, who is arrested on charges of trying to have his ex-lover, a man (played by Ben Whishaw), murdered by some bumbling thugs. Matthew Gilbert,, "Hugh Grant does justice to ‘A Very English Scandal’," 11 July 2018 The tipping point was when retirees, demonstrating on April 18 against a social-security reform decreed by Mr. Ortega, were roughed up by thugs while police watched. Mary Anastasia O’grady, WSJ, "Russia in Central America, Again," 8 July 2018 One of El Nacional’s video reporters, Abraham Tovar, said he was thrown to the floor and hit with glass bottles by pro-government thugs while covering a protest last year. Rachelle Krygier, Washington Post, "As it slides toward authoritarianism, Venezuela targets one of its last independent newspapers," 5 July 2018 Its hero is a young thug lured to an underground community who rebels against its sterility. Robert Jablon, USA TODAY, "'Star Trek' scriptwriter Harlan Ellison, master of sci-fi literature, dies at 84," 28 June 2018 Guzman-Feliz — a member of the NYPD’s Explorers youth program who dreamed of becoming a cop — was dragged from a Bronx bodega Wednesday night and mercilessly hacked to death with machetes by a half-dozen thugs. Fox News, "Mom of Bronx boy, 15, killed in 'brutal' stabbing says she hasn't heard from mayor de Blasio," 24 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'thug.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of thug

1810, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for thug

Hindi & Urdu ṭhag, literally, thief

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Statistics for thug

Last Updated

21 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for thug

The first known use of thug was in 1810

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English Language Learners Definition of thug

: a violent criminal


\ ˈthəg \

Kids Definition of thug

: a violent person or criminal

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Comments on thug

What made you want to look up thug? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


occurring twice a year or every two years

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