\ 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

Some of the details vary from Aldrin’s concept, but the basic elements are the same: nodes in low-Earth orbit and lunar orbit, tugs moving in between, mining propellant from the Moon and relying on smaller launch vehicles. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Buzz Aldrin is looking forward, not back—and he has a plan to bring NASA along," 9 July 2019 These rings form when planets' gravities tug dust grains into orbit around the sun. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Hubble spies a spiral galaxy blooming like roses 70 million light-years away," 8 July 2019 Even as Leung spoke, one of the other protesters tugged at his shirt, urging him to cover his face again. Alice Su, latimes.com, "In Hong Kong, one protester pulls off his mask and defines a movement," 6 July 2019 Symptoms include pain, especially when the ear is tugged or there is pressure on the ear; itching; swelling and redness, and pus drainage. Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, "Wanna swim? Here's how to protect yourself from bacteria, parasites," 4 July 2019 Sprawling mountains of ripe green and lush cliffsides stretch before us as the sea tugs our ship toward the docks of Arida, my home island. David Canfield, EW.com, "First look: Next year's biggest YA fantasy could be All the Stars and Teeth," 2 July 2019 It’s based on the 1961 Fisher-Price pull toy of the same name, still being tugged around by toddlers today. Emily Matchar, Smithsonian, "The Patents Behind Toy Story’s Beloved Characters," 14 June 2019 When the fire started, Mary said she was mesmerized and didn't move until her mother, who had climbed down below the bleachers, tugged on her foot. Michael Hamad, courant.com, "The living survivors of the Hartford circus fire still carry the scars from the tragic day. Hear their stories in this interactive oral history.," 27 June 2019 An Instagram video of a Baltimore police officer tugging on the ears of two suspects lying on the ground and yelling will be reviewed by the city’s Consent Decree monitoring team, the oversight group said in a tweet Tuesday morning. Mckenna Oxenden, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore Consent Decree monitoring team reviewing Cherry Hill arrest video showing use of pressure point," 25 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But responsibility for coordinating the burial services was caught up in a tug of war during the recent city budget process — and some advocates worry about its future. Darcy Costello, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville funerals for people without loved ones nearly lost in city budget tug of war," 3 July 2019 As Watson explains, the semicolon is historically unstable, gaining and losing functions in a tug-of-war with the colon. Christopher Tayler, Harper's magazine, "New Books," 24 June 2019 This case was the capstone of a series of controversies in which the Court had engaged in a tug of war with the presidency and the Congress over the rights of enemy combatants detained in the American prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Carson Holloway, National Review, "John Roberts: A Political Judge?," 20 June 2019 Sam Cooke, Dolly Parton and Elvis Presley also felt the same tug between the church and the charts. Geoff Edgers, Washington Post, "Aretha: Her story was in her songs," 19 June 2019 Since last summer, Bass Wyden, whose husband is Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has waged a public campaign against the landmark status, one that’s highlighted the complexities in the ongoing tug-of-war for the city’s heritage. The Washington Post, oregonlive.com, "Bookstore’s landmark designation is a ‘bureaucratic straitjacket,’ says owner," 17 June 2019 Now, the woman’s world is filled with anxiety, insomnia and a constant tug between the worlds of the living and the dead after the death of her youngest son, Ethan. Lydia Gerike, courant.com, "Gov. Ned Lamont signs Ethan’s Law during ceremony in Guilford," 13 June 2019 In these chaotic, early days of what could be an important new therapy, Bennett sees a tug of war between three camps. Moises Velasquez-manoff, WIRED, "Ketamine Stirs Up Hope—and Controversy—as a Depression Drug," 8 May 2018 Because liberals and conservatives do need each other, and the right course can sometimes be found in the tug between them. Peggy Noonan, WSJ, "The Wisdom of Oscar Hammerstein," 29 Mar. 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

14 Jul 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).


an act or instance of editing or removing

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