\ˈtəg \
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

4a : trace entry 3 sense 1

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

Go Searcher used to accompany these drone ships when they were tugged back to shore as a support vessel. Loren Grush, The Verge, "SpaceX’s helipad-equipped boat will bring astronauts safely home," 5 Nov. 2018 Dalton has gotten new feet. Warped, alien, pulled, and tugged feet to be exact. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Fecal Matter Has Made Its Photoshopped Skin Shoes Into Actual Wearable Heels—And They're $10,000," 24 Oct. 2018 Also: make sure your accessories don't tug on and rip your hair. Jihan Forbes, Allure, "13 Cute Hair Accessories & Head Wraps That Protect Your Hair," 21 Aug. 2018 Around that time in 2014, another idea tugged at her heart. Serena Solomon, Woman's Day, "Breast Cancer Changed Ronda Carter's Life; Now, She's Doing the Same for Others," 24 Sep. 2018 For poet and artist Claudia Rankine and photographer John Lucas, tugging at the thread of the blonde phenomenon has been a roving mission over the last couple years. Laura Regensdorf, Vogue, "Why Blonde Privilege Is Real, From Barbie to the White House," 24 July 2018 The teens repeat the call, then rhythmically tug the line, slowly, steadily, raising the boat’s mainsail and boom, a combined weight of some 3,000 pounds. Billboard, "Aboard the Clearwater: Five Decades of Environmental Activism Rooted In Music," 13 June 2018 Gilmore tugged up her shorts and waded into the basin, sandals sinking deep into chocolatey mud. Ben Goldfarb, Science | AAAS, "Beaver dams without beavers? Artificial logjams are a popular but controversial restoration tool," 7 June 2018 Orlando Cortez puffed out his chest and tugged at his vest, striking a pose in front of a mirror. Krista Torralva, San Antonio Express-News, "Students get outfitted for prom with a non-profit’s help," 12 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Ferry service was halted for about six hours until the Salish freed itself and tug boats relocated it to Port Townsend. Asia Fields, The Seattle Times, "Ferry runs aground at Coupeville terminal; no one hurt, but boat needs repair," 11 Sep. 2018 In the tug of war between workers and investors, Americans living on a paycheck have seldom been left with a shorter end of the rope. Patricia Cohen, New York Times, "Paychecks Lag as Profits Soar, and Prices Erode Wage Gains," 13 July 2018 The tug-of-war between transparency and obscurity is turning out to be one of the defining stories of this election. Casey Newton, The Verge, "One way Twitter’s ad archive improves on Facebook’s," 3 Nov. 2018 Biggest professional motivator: The ceaseless tug-of-war between will and representation. Michaela Bechler, Vogue, "Shop Fall Fashion Inspired by 14 Real Working Women," 20 Sep. 2018 Good teeth action starts with taking bae's bottom lip between your front teeth, giving a gentle tug, and letting go. 15. Bernadette Anat, Seventeen, "How to Kiss: 20 Secrets Good Kissers Know," 2 Aug. 2018 Within the context of the exiled party’s Trump era ideological tug-of-war, the result was greeted as an even more significant inflection point, as the battlefield appeared to tilt decidedly toward the progressives. Gabriel Debenedetti, Daily Intelligencer, "Democrats’ 2020 Hopefuls Refuse to Disagree (on the Midterms)," 1 July 2018 Even less tug under the eyes than the former stick. Tynan Sinks, Allure, "I Compared the $24 BareMinerals Pro Stick to Clé De Peau Beauté’s Famous $70 Concealer," 26 Apr. 2018 The right for graduate students to organize has proved a lengthy, politically partisan tug of war. Dawn Rhodes, chicagotribune.com, "As pay and benefits stagnate, nontenured faculty and graduate students in Illinois, Chicago look to unions," 19 Apr. 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

1 Dec 2018

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 \
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).


to move with a clumsy heavy tread

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