\ ˈthəg How to pronounce thug (audio) \

Definition of thug

: a brutal ruffian or assassin : gangster, tough

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Other Words from thug

thuggery \ ˈthə-​g(ə-​)rē How to pronounce thuggery (audio) \ noun
thuggish \ ˈthə-​gish How to pronounce thuggish (audio) \ 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 In the first scene of the play, Lila throws Lenu’s doll into a dark cellar owned by Don Achille, a thug who rules over the neighborhood, and then Lenu throws Lila’s doll there, too, in retaliation. Anna Russell, The New Yorker, "Putting Elena Ferrante on the Stage," 5 Feb. 2020 Instead of becoming thugs, smugglers or assassins, hundreds of children and young adults have been performing throughout Mexico, the U.S. and beyond, winning accolades for their music. Alfredo Corchado, Dallas News, "Choirs unite in song to bring North Texas and the borderlands closer together," 17 Jan. 2020 Two robbed and beaten by thugs/Strangers in city lose money and sustain serious injuries. Paula Allen,, "Wilson County farmer’s 1914 visit to big-city San Antonio ended in the cemetery," 11 Jan. 2020 Pickup trucks of thugs patrolled Quito, the capital. The Economist, "The cost of Ecuador’s surrender on fuel subsidies," 17 Oct. 2019 The word took on added significance after July 21, when armed thugs launched an attack on civilians at a train station and police failed to arrive in time to thwart the assault, or apprehend anyone. Mary Hui, Quartz, "The Cantonese words at the heart of Hong Kong’s 2019 protest vocabulary," 23 Dec. 2019 However, the risk that thugs from the old regime may scupper democratic reforms is still worryingly high. The Economist, "The Economist’s country of the year Which nation improved the most in 2019?," 18 Dec. 2019 The tough-guy actor even really clipped the young comedian during one thug scene for realism. Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, "'Beverly Hills Cops' at 35: 'Breaking Bad's Jonathan Banks faced off with Eddie Murphy," 5 Dec. 2019 The protest movement this time around has had to endure unprecedented levels of force and violence, both from the police as well as armed thugs. Mary Hui, Quartz, "What the Hong Kong protests can teach the world about enduring social movements," 19 Nov. 2019

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

23 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Thug.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for thug


How to pronounce thug (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of thug

: a violent criminal


\ ˈthəg How to pronounce thug (audio) \

Kids Definition of thug

: a violent person or criminal

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More from Merriam-Webster on thug

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for thug

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with thug

Spanish Central: Translation of thug

Nglish: Translation of thug for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of thug for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about thug

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