\ 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

The story begins in earnest when a trio of thugs invade Luke’s home, kill his parents and carry him off to the dark destination of the novel’s title. William Sheehan, Washington Post, "Stephen King’s ‘The Institute’ turns our political moment into gripping horror," 9 Sep. 2019 Groups of thugs in white t-shirts have also been beating people—protestors or not—indiscriminately. Nikhil Sonnad, Quartz, "Hong Kong’s police are rolling out harsh new tactics against protestors," 11 Aug. 2019 The German was driving through the streets of Golders Green in north London, when a pair of thugs brandishing knives began chasing him on mopeds., "Mesut Ozil & Sead Kolasinac Safe After Being Attacked by Knife-Wielding Gang in London," 25 July 2019 While police have not confirmed that the incident in Yuen Long was coordinated under the direction of a Triad group, the phenomenon of thugs-for-hire is common across the border in mainland China. Helen Regan, CNN, "Fears of thugs-for-hire in Hong Kong after mob attack," 23 July 2019 With the attacks in Yuen Long, the protests have entered a stage that many Hong Kong activists fear from past experience: the use of thugs to intimidate demonstrators. Austin Ramzy,, "Mob attack at Hong Kong train station heightens seething tensions in city," 22 July 2019 After a midnight bag drop to some armed thugs, cut to a club where Zayn makes a delivery to Bauer and dream-like images of the singer hooking up with the mystery woman. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, "Zayn is an International Man of Mystery in Epic 'Let Me' Video: Watch," 12 Apr. 2018 While Chechen thugs initially were blamed, the Russian government much later pointed to Khodorkovsky and his right-hand man Leonid Nevzlin as architects of the contract killing — an arrest warrant forces Khodorkovsky to remain in exile in London. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Citizen K': Film Review | Venice 2019," 31 Aug. 2019 In the space of 30 hours, thugs have assaulted protest organisers and the police have conducted mass arrests of pro-democracy lawmakers and activists, including me. The Economist, "“We long to see a Hong Kong free from tyranny”," 31 Aug. 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

21 Sep 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

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miscellaneous remnants or debris

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