\ 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
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

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

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Examples of tug in a Sentence

Verb I felt someone tugging on my sleeve. She tugged the cord until the plug came out of the wall socket. Noun 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 There were moments when his teammates embraced him — Aaron Henry playfully tugging his headband with a hand in Winston’s face to draw a smile, a perfect pass in stride to Thomas Kithier and a fist pump after. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State's Cassius Winston plays with broken heart, but surrounded by love," 10 Nov. 2019 His language is spare, strange, and evocative, with a tugging indeterminism. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, "“The Divers’ Game,” Jesse Ball’s Unnerving Parable of a Country That Feigns Innocence," 23 Sep. 2019 To create a smooth line, hold your finger to make the skin around your eye taut, but don't tug. Blake Bakkila, Good Housekeeping, "How to Apply Eyeliner That's Even, Straight, and Really, Really Pretty," 23 Jan. 2019 Hong Kongers at the time were endlessly curious about life across the border and, tugged by bonds of family, culture and in some case politics, saw their city as part of a bigger Chinese story. Andrew Higgins, New York Times, "Hong Kong Was Once Passionate About China. Now, It’s Indifferent or Contemptuous.," 3 Sep. 2019 Bands of red, violet, and green melt into one another, and in some works, large swaths of color deepen like the sky at twilight, tugging us into a dream of eternity. Cate Mcquaid, BostonGlobe.com, "At Boston’s M Fine Arts Galerie, Mark Knoerzer paintings whirl with pattern and color," 14 Aug. 2019 Homers by the bushel, a polished performance by Brett Anderson and the A’s finally tugged themselves away from the .500 mark. Susan Slusser, SFChronicle.com, "A’s belt six homers, top Orioles 16-2 to move two games over .500," 18 June 2019 At the top of the box, the captain cut one way, ducked the other and then tugged the ball back to shimmy free of his defender. Julia Poe, Pro Soccer USA, "Nani leads Orlando City to dig out 3-3 draw against New England Revolution," 5 Aug. 2019 To create a smooth line, use your finger to make the skin around your eye taut, but don't tug. Hana Hong, Marie Claire, "How to Apply Liquid Eyeliner Like a Pro: A Fast and Easy Guide," 26 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The cultural tug-o’-war over the presidency is the great American tribal competition in its most concentrated form. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "Impeachment and the Broken Truce," 14 Nov. 2019 Like on the last model, these attach via magnetic clasps and pop off with a firm tug. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Xbox Elite Series 2 Controller review: For $180, it better be this good," 7 Nov. 2019 In late March or early April, tug on a couple of the cuttings. oregonlive, "How to propagate plants from cuttings: Snip stems now to have new plants in spring," 4 Nov. 2019 Both groups of fans surely were emotionally wiped out after basically a three-hour tug of war. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Lakers take ownership of the glitz while the Clippers simply own the game," 22 Oct. 2019 However, Milan also had a player sent off when Davide Calabria was shown a second yellow card for a shirt tug on Genoa forward Christian Kouamé, 11 minutes from time. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Reina saves penalty as Milan wins 2-1 at Genoa," 5 Oct. 2019 Scouts from Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint Germain, Bayern Munich, Benfica and Ajax were also present in France, with a transfer tug of war now set to play out for the remainder of the summer. SI.com, "Exclusive: Premier League Quartet Interested in Chinese Goalkeeper After Toulon Scouting Mission," 24 June 2019 In many ways, Colorado is a fitting scene for the tug of war between claims of religious freedom and civil rights for gay Americans. Julie Turkewitz, New York Times, "Colorado, Once Called the ‘Hate State,’ Grapples With Cake Baker Decision," 5 June 2018 Myrna also appraised the insistent tug of memories in a 1979 essay for The New York Times, when the family moved to a larger suburban home. Bryan Marquard, BostonGlobe.com, "Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer, authors of baseball books and oral histories, die a week apart at 80 and 83," 14 Aug. 2019

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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Statistics for tug

Last Updated

17 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for tug

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

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More Definitions for tug


How to pronounce Tug (audio)

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.
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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tug

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tug

Spanish Central: Translation of tug

Nglish: Translation of tug for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tug for Arabic Speakers

Comments on tug

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strength of mind

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