\ 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 Before Dex breaks loose, one thug sings the praises of a special brew, and its flavors of caramel and black currant. oregonlive, "‘Stumptown'; What the TV series gets wrong (and right) about Portland," 26 Nov. 2019 Given that fact, plus its exotic architecture and music biz milieu, the temptation might be not to revisit Egan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning work of fiction, for fear the book might itself have been scarred by time’s merciless thugs. Ew Staff,, "Why A Visit From the Goon Squad is EW's Best Book of the Decade," 25 Nov. 2019 Men who report they have been threatened and intimidated by thugs. Letter Writers, Twin Cities, "Letters: Scrubbing names is not enough! Macalester College must be closed!," 21 Nov. 2019 The film says among them were thugs, criminals and racists prone to spectacle in frontier justice. Elaine Ayala,, "‘Porvenir, Texas’ can be your Hispanic Heritage Month must-see," 26 Sep. 2019 Where are police advancing, and are there armed thugs attacking civilians? Mary Hui, Quartz, "Real-time maps warn Hong Kong protesters of water cannons and riot police," 3 Sep. 2019 EbonyJanice: Some critical race theory, not some thug passion or something. Olivia Fleming, Harper's BAZAAR, "Rachel Cargle Insists Rest Is the Real Revolution for Black Women," 6 Nov. 2019 Right-wing strongmen such as the Philippines' Ferdinand Marcos or South Korea’s Chun Doo-hwan were a far cry from east European thugs such as Nicolae Ceaușescu and Wojciech Jaruzelski. The Economist, "Why are so many countries witnessing mass protests?," 4 Nov. 2019 While West has always defied the commonplace worldly sentiments of hip-hop culture (letting the preppie image oppose the street-thug image yet still flashing bling), Jesus Is King shows maturity. Armond White, National Review, "Kanye West’s Faith Triumphs Over Political Bitterness," 30 Oct. 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

30 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Thug.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 10 December 2019.

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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

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 state or do over again or repeatedly

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