\ 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

But that vibrancy became a target this week when riotous thugs threw Jakarta’s city center into chaos over election results. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Riots in Jakarta," 24 May 2019 The anti-government protests started after masked thugs beat up an opposition politician last November. Dusan Stojanovic, The Seattle Times, "Thousands rally in Serbia against populist leader Vucic," 14 Apr. 2019 In Mumbai, thugs from the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, a chauvinist political party, have attacked migrants from the impoverished Hindi belt drawn to the city’s prosperity. Sadanand Dhume, WSJ, "For India, English Is a Cure, Not a Sickness," 20 Sep. 2018 The president slamming the special council's team as, quote, angry, Democrat thugs, who reportedly met with McGahn for over 30 hours in the Russia probe all with the president's blessings. Fox News, "Clearance showdown between Trump and Brennan intensifies," 21 Aug. 2018 Stick-wielding thugs would beat protesters while uniformed officers looked on. The Economist, "Uganda’s politicised police force is not reducing crime," 5 July 2018 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

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

1 Jun 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

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