\ 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

Michael Cohen is, famously, a lowlife and screwball who’s made his living as an enforcer, liar and thug. Peggy Noonan, WSJ, "Michael Cohen Makes History," 28 Feb. 2019 Rights activists say Egyptian authorities have a long history of recruiting plainclothes thugs to attack protesters and opposition figures. Hamza Hendawi,, "Egypt’s opposition says assailants trashed their party," 6 June 2018 Meanwhile, some pro-EU lawmakers have been threatened outside the Palace of Westminster by thugs wearing yellow vests like those of demonstrators in France. Max Colchester, WSJ, "Brexit Turns U.K. Parliament on Its Head," 14 Jan. 2019 Kennedy was not used to dealing with a thug like Khrushchev. Eli Stokols,, "Summits are tricky: Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan each learned the hard way," 9 June 2018 Or of African-Americans hunkering down in panic and despair, with their neighborhood burning, thugs running wild in the chaos? John Kass,, "Memories of the 1968 King riots, a story Chicago would rather forget," 4 Apr. 2018 Fascist thugs attacking bookshops is the logical conclusion to a political movement that rejects facts and experts. Constance Grady, Vox, "Being a librarian used to be considered too dangerous a profession for women," 11 Aug. 2018 The only thing these thugs are good at, is destroying lives. Jean Marbella,, "Baltimore County police officer's death ignites a racial firestorm," 25 May 2018 But as in the breaking of any mob of cheap thugs, eliciting testimony may have to include plea-bargaining or even granting some individuals immunity. Kevin Baker, The New Republic, "Why America needs truth and reconciliation after Trump," 17 May 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

23 Mar 2019

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 How to pronounce thug (audio) \

Kids Definition of thug

: a violent person or criminal

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More from Merriam-Webster on thug

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with thug

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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

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).


an enemy or opponent

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