\ ˈtəg How to pronounce tug (audio) \
tugged; tugging

Definition of tug

 (Entry 1 of 3)

intransitive verb

1 : to pull hard
2 : to struggle in opposition : contend
3 : to exert oneself laboriously : labor

transitive verb

1 : to pull or strain hard at
2a : to move by pulling hard : haul
b : to carry with difficulty : lug
3 : to tow with a tugboat



Definition of tug (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : an act or instance of tugging : pull
b : a strong pulling force
2a : a straining effort
b : a struggle between two people or opposite forces
3 : tugboat
b : a short leather strap or loop
c : a rope or chain used for pulling

Definition of Tug (Entry 3 of 3)

tugrik, tugriks

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Other Words from tug


tugger noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for tug

Synonyms: Verb

drag, draw, hale, haul, lug, pull, tow

Synonyms: Noun

draw, haul, jerk, pluck, pull, wrench, yank

Antonyms: Verb

drive, propel, push

Antonyms: Noun


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Examples of tug in a Sentence


I felt someone tugging on my sleeve. She tugged the cord until the plug came out of the wall socket.


He felt a gentle tug on his sleeve. gave the man in front a tug on his shirtsleeve as a sign that he was supposed to step aside
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Fins can be seen splashing in the water, as if the pair were both briefly tugging at the creature, before the bigger shark swims away with the prey. Jennifer Earl, Fox News, "Great white shark kills dolphin, loses meal to even bigger shark," 17 Aug. 2018 My boobs were filling up with milk, hardening and tugging at the skin around my chest. Meaghan O'connell, Longreads, "A Certain Kind of Mammal," 10 Apr. 2018 Wrap the second section around the first and secure it with a bobby pin, then gently tug the bun with your fingers if necessary to give it a full, rounded shape. Sam Escobar, Good Housekeeping, "17 Genius Curly Hair Tips and Tricks," 1 Dec. 2017 Ryan said if Lamb wins it send a message to the party to recruit more candidates of his ilk — centrists with military or law enforcement experience — at a time when others are tugging the Democratic Party leftward. Eliza Collins, USA TODAY, "Pennsylvania election will be seen as a bellwether for November even if Democrat Lamb's persona is key," 12 Mar. 2018 Securities brokers such as Frank Lorenzo obviously do not tug at the judicial heartstrings. Brent Kendall, WSJ, "Supreme Court to Rule on Kavanaugh Appeals Court SEC Case," 2 Dec. 2018 Sterling's rags to riches story undoubtedly tugs on the heart strings. SI.com, "Raheem Sterling Reveals Why He Rejected Arsenal as a Kid & Claims It's the 'Best Decision I've Made'," 22 June 2018 And Republicans are being tugged to the right as much as Democrats are drifting to the left. Jonathan Martin, New York Times, "Black, Female and Running for Governor: Can She Win in the South?," 19 May 2018 There's plenty of other strange goings-on and moments that tug at your heart-strings in Castle Rock, with one heck of a twist in the last two episodes (and a quintessentially King-like ending). Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "TV Technica 2018: Our favorite shows and binges," 24 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection, her ear tug became a trademark move. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "The Real Reason Why Carol Burnett Pulls Her Ear," 4 Jan. 2019 Masters said there's a tug-of-war between two clear-skies high-pressure systems — one off the coast and one over Michigan. Seth Borenstein, Fox News, "For meteorologists, Florence 'is a horrific nightmare storm'," 13 Sep. 2018 There will be tug of war, field events, piping and drumming groups, a scotch tasting and a vendor area featuring all things Scottish. Yoshina Okamoto, Anchorage Daily News, "Coming up: Arctic Thunder, Scottish Highland Games and the return of Arlo Guthrie," 28 June 2018 Prior work suggested that the most likely explanation for this orbital eccentricity was gravitational tug-of-war between exoplanets. Charles Q. Choi, Space.com, "Wandering Rogue Moons May Be As Common As Stars," 19 Mar. 2018 The good news is that ExoMars appears to be undamaged by whatever happened to its space tug, but the mission is not out of the woods yet. Anatoly Zak, Popular Mechanics, "Did the New Russia-Europe Mars Mission Narrowly Escape a Launch Disaster?," 22 Mar. 2016 The very structure of the wrap dress simultaneously offered businesslike assertiveness to the wearer and, to the observer, the sly promise that it could be removed with one swift tug. Alex Kuczynski, Town & Country, "Diane and Talita von Furstenberg Turn an American Empire into a Family Dynasty," 7 Feb. 2019 Russia claims the Ukrainian ships acted aggressively, prompting their capture by ships of the Federal Border Guard, including the patrol boats Sobol, Mangust, and Suzdalets, and the armed tug Don. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Russia Seizes Three Ukrainian Warships in Border Incident," 26 Nov. 2018 Another method currently used to find exoplanets, called radial velocity, relies on measuring how much an object's gravity tugs on its home star. John Wenz, Popular Mechanics, "One of the Three Closest Stars Looks Friendly for Life," 6 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tug.' 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 tug


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4a

History and Etymology for tug


Middle English tuggen; akin to Old English togian to pull — more at tow

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Learn More about tug

Dictionary Entries near tug



Tu Fu




tug chain

Statistics for tug

Last Updated

10 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tug

The first known use of tug was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for tug



English Language Learners Definition of tug

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to pull something with a quick, forceful movement



English Language Learners Definition of tug (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act of pulling on something : a quick pull
: a strong pulling force


\ ˈtəg How to pronounce tug (audio) \
tugged; tugging

Kids Definition of tug

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to pull hard I tugged at the rope.
2 : to move by pulling hard : drag
3 : to tow with a tugboat



Kids Definition of tug (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act of pulling hard : a hard pull She gave him a tug.
2 : tugboat
3 : a strong pulling force the tug of gravity
4 : a struggle between two people or forces


Medical Definition of tug

— see tracheal tug

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More from Merriam-Webster on tug

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tug

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tug

Spanish Central: Translation of tug

Nglish: Translation of tug for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tug for Arabic Speakers

Comments on tug

What made you want to look up tug? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


of or relating to a parable or parabola

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