\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

The five thugs were charged, but despite their actions, words and the seriousness of their crimes, they were somehow not taken to jail and didn’t even have any damn mugshots taken (the white privilege has reached its peak). Breanna Edwards, The Root, "Gang of White Thugs Hurl Slurs at Black Mom, Smash Her Car Window, Yet Somehow No One Went to Jail or Even Had a Damn Mugshot Taken," 4 July 2018 Some 300 people have been killed since April in a country of 6.2m according to human-rights groups, almost all of them unarmed protesters at the hands of paramilitary thugs acting in cahoots with Mr Ortega’s police. The Economist, "Daniel Ortega is causing a bloodbath in Nicaragua," 12 July 2018 These are good young men who have been portrayed as thugs by virtue of this lawsuit. Christy Gutowski,, "Former Wheaton College football player sues school, former teammates over hazing incident," 16 Mar. 2018 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

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

2 Nov 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).


to express warning or disapproval

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