\ 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

The central defender tugged Pulisic back with 120 seconds left of extra time, allowing Marco Reus to send his side into the next round with an ice-cool spot-kick. SI.com, "Union Berlin vs Borussia Dortmund Preview: Where to Watch, Buy Tickets, Live Stream & Team News," 29 Aug. 2019 In the clip, Jenner tugs at the bottom of her swimsuit and does a short runway-like walk to show off her stylish swimwear. Georgia Slater, PEOPLE.com, "Kendall Jenner Shows Off Her Toned Body in Leopard Bikini Snap," 28 Aug. 2019 Kennedy tugged down fellow Australian Sam Kerr to keep the striker from getting her foot on a dangerous through-ball and was then sent off for a denial of a goal-scoring opportunity. Julia Poe, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando Pride chase back-to-back wins when they face Washington Spirit on road," 13 Aug. 2019 An orbiting planet will tug its parent star back and forth, making the starlight appear alternately a little bluer and a little redder than normal. Corey S. Powell, Scientific American, "The Hunt Is on for Alpha Centauri’s Planets," 5 Aug. 2019 The muck tugged at our boots, then reluctantly let go, and our progress sounded like suction cups applied and released, over and over: pluck, pluck, pluck! William Booth, Washington Post, "Britain’s deadliest path," 26 July 2019 When Camila reached her, Magdalena tugged her daughter's skirt down toward her knees and glared at the pen-marks on Camila's pale arm. Stephanie Green, chicagotribune.com, "2019 Algren Awards: Finalist: Host Mother," 20 July 2019 Other departures have tugged more sharply at the heartstrings. Ann Killion, SFChronicle.com, "From joy to accounting: The cruel, cold end of a Warriors era," 11 July 2019 Her patriotic messaging could tug at the nationalistic heartstrings Mr Trump strummed in 2016. The Economist, "A large share of Republicans hold progressive economic views," 21 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Many people who leave their small-town homes for school or any number of other reasons later discover that the tug of their roots is greater than migratory impulses. Liza Weisstuch, BostonGlobe.com, "Tulsa is in the throes of a dining renaissance," 2 Sep. 2019 Clockwise circulation around the high tugs Hurricane Dorian northward. Los Angeles Times, "What forces are pulling Hurricane Dorian to the north?," 31 Aug. 2019 But that could get a lot easier soon thanks to a new spacecraft in the works called the space tug—a vehicle that can grab smaller satellites after they've been dropped off and guide them to their rightful place amongst the sats. Wired, "A Tugboat in Space, Microplastics In Your Water, and More News," 22 Aug. 2019 Momentus, of course, has placed its bet on building the space tugs. Sarah Scoles, WIRED, "Here Come the Space Tugs, Ready to Tidy Up Earth's Orbits," 22 Aug. 2019 Its 224 pages are filled with ideas and encouragement, and provide a realistic perspective on the tug of war between humans and deer. oregonlive.com, "Deterring deer without a fence: ’Deer-Resistant Design’ garden book review," 30 July 2019 This pattern of orbital resonance means that Io’s orbit is forced to be more elliptical than it otherwise would be, and the resulting gravitational tugs among the moons make Io’s solid surface ebb and flow by as much as 330 feet. Robin George Andrews, National Geographic, "This is our best look yet at the solar system's most volcanic object," 18 July 2019 Politically, Idlib reflects the tug-of-war among international players supporting opposing sides of Syria’s conflict. Bassem Mroue, SFChronicle.com, "Stalled Idlib campaign shows limits of Syrian, Russian power," 13 July 2019 With the tug-of-war for Baby Nichole playing out on TV screens worldwide, Emily and her past activities have been thrust into the public eye. Elena Nicolaou, refinery29.com, "Why Emily's "Criminal" Track Record Puts Her At Risk Of Heading Back To Gilead In The Handmaid's Tale," 5 July 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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Learn More about tug

Dictionary Entries near tug



Tu Fu




tug chain

Statistics for tug

Last Updated

22 Sep 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

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miscellaneous remnants or debris

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