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thug

[thuhg]
noun
  1. a cruel or vicious ruffian, robber, or murderer.
  2. (sometimes initial capital letter) one of a former group of professional robbers and murderers in India who strangled their victims.
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Origin of thug

First recorded in 1800–10, thug is from the Hindi word thag literally, rogue, cheat
Related formsthug·ger·y [thuhg-uh-ree] /ˈθʌg ə ri/, nounthug·gish, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for thuggish

thug

noun
  1. a tough and violent man, esp a criminal
  2. (sometimes capital) (formerly) a member of an organization of robbers and assassins in India who typically strangled their victims
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Derived Formsthuggery, nounthuggish, adjective

Word Origin for thug

C19: from Hindi thag thief, from Sanskrit sthaga scoundrel, from sthagati to conceal
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for thuggish

thug

n.

1810, "member of a gang of murderers and robbers in India who strangled their victims," from Marathi thag, thak "cheat, swindler," Hindi thag, perhaps from Sanskrit sthaga-s "cunning, fraudulent," possibly from sthagayati "(he) covers, conceals," from PIE root *(s)teg- "cover" (see stegosaurus). Transferred sense of "ruffian, cutthroat" first recorded 1839. The more correct Indian name is phanseegur, and the activity was described in English as far back as c.1665. Rigorously prosecuted by the British from 1831, they were driven from existence, but the process extended over the rest of the 19c.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper