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thug Line breaks: thug

Definition of thug in English:


1A violent person, especially a criminal: he was attacked by a gang of thugs
More example sentences
  • The Tories are anxious not to upset anybody these days, even thugs and criminals.
  • Alcohol wrecks lives and families and too often transforms people into violent thugs.
  • A frail widow was brutally robbed of her life savings in her own home by a violent thug who left her with a broken arm and leg.
ruffian, hoodlum, bully boy, bully, bandit, mugger, gangster, terrorist, gunman, murderer, killer, hitman, assassin, hooligan, vandal, Yardie
informal tough, bruiser, hired gun
British informal rough, bovver boy, lager lout, chav, hoodie
Scottish & Northern English informal ned
North American informal hood, goon
Australian/New Zealand informal roughie, hoon
rare myrmidon
2 (Thug) historical A member of an organization of robbers and assassins in India. Devotees of the goddess Kali, the Thugs waylaid and strangled their victims, usually travellers, in a ritually prescribed manner. They were suppressed by the British in the 1830s.
Example sentences
  • In 7th century India members of the Thug cult would ritually strangle passers-by as sacrifices to the Hindu deity, Kali.
  • The Thugs strangle their victims, steal their possessions, and bury them in pre-dug pits.
  • The original Thugs were bands of roving criminals in India who strangled and robbed travellers.


Pronunciation: /ˈθʌɡəri/
Example sentences
  • We are absolutely fed up with the anti-social element in our midst, whose lives consist of wanton vandalism, theft, thuggery and the like.
  • There were guns, drug barons, organised thuggery.
  • Those who dominate in the new 249-seat Wolesi Jirga will have secured their seat through a mixture of thuggery and bribery.
Pronunciation: /ˈθʌɡɪʃ/
Example sentences
  • Crime busters fighting to rid a Penhill estate of vandalism and thuggish behaviour are appealing for more help.
  • Its crude threats and thuggish intimidation of local fishermen are not a sign of strength but of political weakness.
  • What was done here was thuggish, malevolent, illegal, and immoral.
Pronunciation: /ˈθʌɡɪʃli/
Example sentences
  • He really lashed out, calling them thuggish, saying that thuggishly, this union has turned its back on New York, and New Yorkers.
  • Park and his partner continue to thuggishly interrogate the local townsmen, attempting to pin the crime on the local town dunce.
  • It's one of the sorrier episodes of Chinese history that China has so thuggishly gone into Tibet and occupied it.
Pronunciation: /ˈθʌɡɪʃnəs/
Example sentences
  • The Vice President weighed in with characteristic thuggishness, denouncing criticism of the domestic spying.
  • While our enemies' names might have changed, their duplicitous thuggishness hasn't.
  • There's none of that half-cocked, late-night thuggishness about these soldiers.
Pronunciation: /ˈθʌɡɪz(ə)m/
Example sentences
  • Their critique of that group's nepotism, pocket-lining and thuggism has some truth.


Early 19th century (in sense 2): from Hindi ṭhag 'swindler, thief', based on Sanskrit sthagati 'he covers or conceals'. sense 1 arose in the mid 19th century.

  • In the early 19th century a thug was a member of an organization of professional robbers and assassins in India who strangled their victims, deceiving them by pretending to be fellow travellers, and gaining their confidence. The word comes from Hindi thag ‘swindler, thief’. We meet the first British thugs or violent louts in the 1830s, in Glasgow.

Words that rhyme with thug

bug, chug, Doug, drug, dug, fug, glug, hug, jug, lug, mug, plug, pug, rug, shrug, slug, smug, snug, trug, tug
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