Although thug was originally (and often still is) a term with strong negative connotations, since at least the early 1990s it has been embraced and reconceived by rap artists.
It now functions in African-American English with far more nuance than those unfamiliar with that reconception will recognize.
The word's original and ongoing use to refer to criminals is still very much present in the culture at large, however, and use of thug by a white person to refer to a Black person is generally understood to lack the nuance the word carries when used by a Black person, and to instead be an offensive insinuation that a Black person can be assumed to be engaged in criminal behavior.
Examples of thug in a Sentence
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'thug.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.