\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from tug


tugger noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for tug

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Another challenge is the way districts’ varied constituencies tug representatives in opposite directions. BostonGlobe.com, 8 Oct. 2021 These high-quality disposable face masks feature an adjustable nose bridge for a secure fit and soft ear loops that won't tug, which is ideal for extended wear during travel. Claire Harmeyer, PEOPLE.com, 1 Oct. 2021 Crosswords tug all sides of your mind, requiring you to dart from straightforward definitions to narrative logic to free association to bad dad puns, all in the same space. Jerry Weissman, Forbes, 18 Sep. 2021 Apple’s word-of-mouth hit still manages to tug on our heartstrings, even with all the [sighs] season two discourse. Savannah Salazar, Vulture, 17 Sep. 2021 All-wheel drive is a $2000 option on any trim level, and checking that box also unlocks a $900 towing package that allows the QX60 to tug a solid 6000 pounds, up from the standard 3500. Derek Powell, Car and Driver, 8 Sep. 2021 The gravity of a faraway planet could tug at its star, making the star wobble ever so slightly. Marina Koren, The Atlantic, 11 Aug. 2021 The process required Kim to continuously tug and stretch the sticky latex while two assistants adjusted the fabric over her body. refinery29.com, 18 Aug. 2021 Montero was past Bressan on the other side of the box, and the FCD center back reached out to tug Montero’s shirt. Jon Arnold, Dallas News, 4 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The tug of war set was really built way more than 10 meters above the ground, so some staff members felt quite afraid of heights. Zoe Hewitt, Variety, 15 Oct. 2021 On this week’s show, author Emily Kaplan joins us to discuss her piece and the tug of war taking place between progressive and conservative forces within the faith. David Noyce, The Salt Lake Tribune, 13 Oct. 2021 The episode starts where the last left off, with Gi-hun’s team winning the tug-of-war after using Sang-woo’s trick. Quinci Legardye, Vulture, 4 Oct. 2021 Love and friendship simply cannot survive in this environment, as the incentives change by the day; the tug of war rewards teamwork, while a game of marbles brutally punishes the players for caring for one another. Dani Di Placido, Forbes, 30 Sep. 2021 Mediocrity is, alternatively, a way station on the journey to excellence, a space for radical experimentation and a momentary respite from the unrelenting tug of ambition. New York Times, 30 Sep. 2021 They are locked in a tug of war over Mr. Biden’s agenda with the party’s centrists, who have argued for downsizing the proposals and questioned the scope of its tax increases. Lindsay Wise, WSJ, 2 Oct. 2021 Irina’s dreams of studying at university have landed her in a patriarchal tug-of-war between her father, urging her to join him in London, and her cousins, who aren’t above emotional blackmail to retain her free labor. Guy Lodge, Variety, 30 Sep. 2021 That stance has elicited criticism and confusion among school boards and other education advocates, who have been placed in sometimes-ugly tug-of-wars between pro-maskers and anti-maskers. Lily Altavena, Detroit Free Press, 2 Sep. 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About tug

Time Traveler for tug

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near tug

Tu Fu



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for tug

Last Updated

20 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tug.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tug. Accessed 23 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon
Seen & Heard
People are talking about

Keep scrolling for more

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

More from Merriam-Webster on tug

Nglish: Translation of tug for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tug for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Dog Words Quiz

  • shiba puppy more or less demanding cuddles
  • Which of the following animals has a dog in its etymology?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!